Felons regaining voting rights is a victory for democracy

More than 170,000 Kentucky residents with nonviolent felony convictions will regain their right to vote, thanks to an executive order issued by Gov. Steve Beshear on Nov. 24. In the past, former felons had to make individual pleas for voting rights. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, one governor required an essay and three character references before he would even consider an application. The move by Governor Beshear, a Democrat who left office on Dec. 8, is not only a matter of fairness but also a sensible component of criminal justice reform. Along with lowering barriers to housing and employment, the restoration of voting rights sends a signal to ex-offenders that they are invited, and expected, to become law-abiding members of their communities. Indeed, the Brennan Center cites lower recidivism rates among former prisoners who have registered to vote.

The Brennan Center also estimates that more than four million Americans are still prohibited from voting because of felony offenses. Florida and Iowa maintain lifetime bans; exceptions can be granted by the governor on what seems to be an arbitrary basis. In other states, ex-felons must wait a certain period of time before they can register to vote, or they must provide documentation from multiple state agencies that can be difficult to obtain.

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Governor Beshear has moved in the right direction, but unless Kentucky amends its constitution, any future governor could put the lifetime voting ban back in place. (The new governor, Matt Bevin, has said he will not do so.) Despite some good news this year, fairness and consistency in voting laws will require constant vigilance.

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Leonard Villa
1 year 11 months ago
What is the benefit of felons voting? "Fairness and consistency in voting laws" because felons are an aggrieved group? Shouldn't felons have to show they have been rehabilitated by some criteria of good citizenry? Or is politics driving this? Felons voting means votes for Democrats and what passes for the liberal-agenda these days? Given voting irregularities surrounding Mayor-Daley-like political machines each election-cycle, are "the dead" the next aggrieved? Amazing!
Robert O'Connell
1 year 11 months ago
When our first child was born in 1966, if we got a boy I was going to name him "Richard Daley O'Connell" but God gave us a daughter instead (and my wife, a Republican then, did not need to shoot me). That was almost 50 years ago. Another thing from the past: Jesus told someone, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." He also told someone, “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” As much as I hate the idea of felons getting to vote, I think His Will, not mine should govern -- and I think I should not attach so much importance to what i want.
Roger Clegg
1 year 11 months ago
If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison. After all, the unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in. and our congressional testimony here:
Harry Bouton
1 year 11 months ago
Be a sensible voter and distinguish who is better. never vote for the person who have criminal record. They should not be given higher importance. http://www.convention-collective-commerce-de-gros.fr

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