January 18, 2006
Democrats for felon voting
Democrat Senators Kohl-Welles, Kline, Regala and Fraser have introduced SB 6651 "Modifying provisions relating to voting rights for incarcerated felons", which would allow a convicted felon to vote as soon as he is "released from total confinement". This would include, I gather, not only those who have served all of their time but haven't paid restitution to their victims, but also those out on parole and in community detention; not to mention those convicted of non-violent offenses (e.g. embezzlement and election fraud) who are eligible for sentences other than total confinement.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at January 18, 2006
10:23 AM | Email This
I just called my state senator. Here's what I told him:
I further briefly elaborated that I might consider such a thing if the person regained their rights to firearms at the same time. It's all part-and-parcel: you're either a full-up contributing free citizen, with all the rights, priveleges and responsibilities thereof, or you're not.
If I can't trust someone with a gun, I won't trust them with a vote. Votes are more dangerous.
2. Amend the Constitution of the State of Washington, THEN change the laws to suit your whims.
Washington Constitution, Article VI, Section 3:
WHO DISQUALIFIED. All persons convicted of infamous crime unless restored to their civil rights and all persons while they are judicially declared mentally incompetent are excluded from the elective franchise.
So we see that the proposed law is unconstitutional. I wonder, though, how would one go about having standing to challenge the law? Would you merely need to be a voter with knowledge of a voting felon to assert that your vote was diluted by the unconstitutional law?
Constitutional amendment first
, I say.
The King County Independent Task Force/Farce recommended this last summer, I recall. Susan Hutchinson wanted to run for US Senate and now thanks to her blabbermouth on KVI can kiss that goodbye (and hello to Senator Maria Cantwell for six more years. Nice!).
Of course, a dormant blogger pointed out in an Orbusmax featured post that the Washington State voter registration form says, "I declare the facts on this voter registration form are true: . . . I am not presently denied my civil rights as a result of being convicted of a felony."
Finally, I hope you read THIS compelling op-ed against felon suffrage in City Journal by Edward C. Feser.
Ultimately, as Feser explains, this is a corruption of basic democratic values. May we defend Lady Democracy until the end!
What about felons convicted of vote fraud?
Oh, wait, WA never prosecutes vote fraud. In fact, vote fraud is encouraged. There are no felons. Even Ron Sims is out on the street.
6. Am I cynical? Our courts the way they are, I think that a plaitiff would be denied standing unless he could prove beyond all doubt that the votes of felons did in fact change the outcome of the election.
7. Well Hell, why don't we just do away with elections all together? Whichever incumbent decides not to run again could just appoint his successor. That would eliminate a lot of pesky investigation and complaining, I guess.
8. They should finish paying resitution and be done with the parole period first!
Restoring felons'civil rights, as pointed out in another post, entails the right to bear arms.
Let's all think about that one.
Does anyone think that Kohl-Welles, et al, are doing this because they expect it to produce a cornucopia of GOP votes if it passes?
After all, Judge Bridges did rule that the five felon voters offered up by the Dems had voted for Rossi.
According to my brief research, under current law and precedent, the right to own firearms is not restored even if the felon's Certificate of Discharge says "All civil liberties lost by operation of law a result of this conviction are hereby restored." A CoD must specifically state that firearms rights are restored.
Having a conviction expunged or vacated doesn't return that right either, under Washington law, although it does remove the federal restriction.
The felony will need a Pardon, Annulment, Certificate of Rehabilitation or an order restoring the right to possess firearms from a superior court. There are a lot of restrictions and hoops to go through for that process. Which is as it should be.
I referred to the web site of the law practice of Paul T Ferris for this information.
12. gm - thank you
The general tone of the bill is that "it is too hard to keep track of felons that have not completed their sentences".
Why not introduce a bill that improves the tracking of felons and their progress towards completing their sentences?
Why not introduce a bill that would better restore the rights of felons that did complete their sentences?
The constitution says "unless where restored to their civil rights".
1. Does this mean ALL civil rights, or just some?
2. Does this law purport to restore ALL civil rights, or just voting rights?
If this law passes, what compelling reasons would exist for the felons to fully complete their sentences - probation, treatment, restitution?
Did anyone else catch the fact that this bill would remove the requirement that the county auditors actually cancel or even temporarily remove the registrations of the felons?
In reading the language of the bill, it only requires the SoS to occasionally transmit the data (doesn't specify where or to whom), and removes any reference of the responsibilities of the county auditors. It also strikes the language of the original law that mentions the purpose of the statewide database is to "aid in the cancelation of voter registrations of felons", changing it to "aid in the identification felons."
So, great, we know who they are, but this bill changes the law so that no one exactly knows what you're supposed to do with the identified felons.
My guess is this sets up a system where every felon vote would have to be individually challenged instead of automatically disqualified.
This is just a game to get more felon votes.
Mary Lane pointed out on April 28, 2005 - and sadly DinoRossi.com didn't archive their press releases - the following according to my archives:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Mary Lane
April 28, 2005 (425) 646-7202
King County investigating more felon voters
Bellevue, WA – The Dino Rossi campaign says King County’s announcement today that it is challenging the registrations of more felon voters is another boost to Rossi’s gubernatorial election contest.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office issued a news release today saying it is challenging an additional 110 voters who have prior felony convictions and whose voting rights have not been restored. The total number of felon voters being challenged by King County now stands at 648. The Prosecutor’s Office also indicated it will investigate the records of another 55 felon voters supplied by the state Republican Party.
“When you add up the illegal votes, the improperly cast votes, and all the mistakes in the last election, you get a giant mess,” said Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane. “At this point not even Christine Gregoire can continue to say with a straight face that this was a ‘model election’ or that anyone can know with certainty who won.”
Lane noted that although Gregoire’s supporters in the Democratic Party are making unfounded claims that more felons vote Republican, available data doesn’t back them up. The Palm Beach Post in Florida reported that in the 2000 election, more than 5,600 Florida felons voted and 68% of them were registered Democrats.
Additionally, so far it’s only Democrats who support legislation granting automatic restoration of felon voting rights, even if the felons haven’t paid off their debts to their victims. Christine Gregoire said recently she supports such legislation.
Gee, if this would genuinely get more GOP votes, then wouldn't the GOP support this? Mary Lane is no dolt!
I get that part - yes, it's obviously a way to allow more felons to legally vote by automatically restoring their right to vote once they've been released from prison (even if other obligations haven't been fulfilled). But I think this goes much further than a simple restoration of voting rights, providing no means by which a felon, even one that is in "total incarceration", from ever being removed from the voter roles or pro-actively stopped from casting a ballot.
It places the burden of proof on a watchful citizen to a) challenge the ballot and b) prove that the challenged ballot belongs to a felon that is incarcerated. If an incarcerated felon receives a ballot and returns it, under this bill, the county auditors have no responsibility to stop it from being counted unless it's successfully challenged.
Posted by: Darth Dogbert on January 18, 2006 03:22 PM
Good catch. I, like you, find the bill disgusting and against democratic values.
What we need instead is better tracking. We live in a world of ISYS, Google, AltaVista, Microsoft, OpenOffice.org, yada, yada, yada. Government should just do better on this.
Yer jist makin' too much sense there.
I'm the kind of guy that thinks shame is very motivating. As part of the tracking of who has is making progress towards completing their entire sentence, and in order to facilitate legitimate voter challenges, how about we add a requirement that the Department of Corrections must quarterly release a database of names (with aliases) and cities of residence of those who are not making progress towards completing their fines and restitution.
Posted by: gmcraff on January 18, 2006 04:57 PM
Good idea. Time if you break the law, full punishment.
What next? Half the fine for a traffic violation?
Had to ask in satirical mode.