The REAL Voter Suppression: Denying Felons the Right to Vote
Red states have gotten lots of well-deserved publicity from their slippery attempts to crack down on voter registration drives, early voting, extended voting hours, etc. But far more votes are suppressed by not allowing felons to vote.
The same goal is achieved by both types of voter suppression: keeping minorities and low-income people out of the voting booth. But preventing ex-cons from voting has been much much more effective in achieving this agenda.
I’m guessing the main reason America’s prisons are such hellholes — by Western standards anyway — is that felons have absolutely no voice in our government. No matter how many millions of them there are, no politician gives a flying fuck about them if they can’t vote.
Thanks to the War on Drugs (and other victimless “crimes”), felons are a sizable percentage of the U.S. population. Perhaps they deserve a voice in the laws that put them behind bars in the first place. I’m not referring to violent criminals, obviously — just the millions of felons whose only “crime” was to offend somebody’s “morals.”
The private prison industry is extremely lucrative, thanks again to our countless laws against victimless “crimes.” The Prison Industrial Complex and the Talibangelical wing of the GOP would both have a lot less political influence if the people most affected by them could vote.
An ex-convict has the right to move next door to you, but he/she can’t vote?!?!?!? Why???
This isn’t the case in most Western countries. ProCon.org conducted a survey of the world’s forty-five democracies. Twenty-one of these countries have absolutely NO restrictions on felons’ voting rights. Out of the remaining twenty-four countries, only FIVE of them are denying the voting rights of felons who have completed their sentence: Armenia, Belgium, Chile, Finland and the United States.
I’m surprised to see Belgium and Finland in that category. Chile, Armenia and the United States — it figures.
In my ongoing effort to be optimistic and see the glass as half full: If we start putting corporate/financial criminals behind bars, maybe our “elected” “representatives” would suddenly get concerned about felons’ voting rights.
But alas, the glass if half empty. I just remembered: during the height of the Watergate scandal, somebody quipped that “prison reform” would be a side effect of having Nixon’s henchmen marching off to prison in droves.
How’d that work out for us? Suddenly we had a new category of “non-violent” minimum security