Bell has good news for former convicts; Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a bill passed by the Florida legislature restoring voting rights to former convicts, estimated at about 112,000.
Supporters of this "add Democrat voters" law refer to prohibitions against voting rights for ex convicts as "Felony disenfranchisement" and lump it together with those horrid "Jim Crow" laws which they say were designed to discourage minority voting. Indeed some laws so described were onerous, such as poll taxes which poor people could not afford to pay for the right to vote. However other laws such as literacy requirements were also labeled discriminatory but it's hard to see why it is unreasonable to require basic English reading skills as a prerequisite to selecting prospective office holders such as the president and vice president of the country.
Voter advocacy groups now view the class of ex convicts as fruitful opportunities to enlist new voters; of course it is unlikely they would vote Republican. Successful lobbying for loosened state voter registration laws have given community organizers like Monica Bell in Florida encouragement to track down former felons usually found in indigent neighborhoods.
Reggie Mitchell, a former community organizer for People for the American Way said "you're talking about incredible numbers of people out there who now may have had their right to vote restored and don't even know it", adding, "In Florida we're talking tens of thousands of people and in the 2000 election, in the state of Florida, 300 people made the difference." What Reggie means is that 300 voting ex felons could have changed the outcome of the 2000 presidential election and we may have had Al Gore in the White House during the September 11th take down of the Twin Towers and the other two planes commandeered by terrorists. Who knows what America's response would have been to this phase of the War on America by Islamic murderers under Al, Greenleaf, Gore?
Efforts to add convicted felons released from jail to Democrat roles are led by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, otherwise known as "ACORN", the group Barack Obama assisted in Chicago, The Sentencing Project and, of course, the American civil Rights Union, known affectionately as ACLU; stalwart liberal organizations all. These organizations gave briefings to Barak Obama but his campaign chooses not to acknowledge this concerted effort to assist his election; I wonder why? Instead, one of Obama's campaign's spokesmen, Bill Burton, said innocuously "We are trying to register voters across the country and follow state laws wherever we are."
In keeping with the suicidal tendency of the Republican Party, felon voter restoration efforts receive bipartisan support in many states. For example; Alabama, Florida, Indiana and Maryland have seen so-called "bipartisan" efforts notwithstanding that a University of Minnesota criminologist, Christopher Uggen, conducted surveys showing about 70% of ex convicts will vote for Democrats (and I personally think the number is much higher). Uggen says "That's because of the high rate of incarceration among blacks, who have strong Democrat preferences."
Presently it appears that only two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote (imagine that) and also parolees and probationers. According to the New York Times, "Thirteen states allow probationers and parolees to vote, eight states reinstate probationer voting rights, and twenty states restore voting rights to people who have completed their sentences."
ACLU lawyer, Muslima Lewis, said "Really, you're not having a full participatory democracy if you disenfranchise so many people. It weakens the whole system and, in particular, communities of color", presumably because they make up the majority of convicted felons.
If Democrat community organizers are successful, your friendly mugger, drug seller or home invader may make the difference whether Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin win the next election.
Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California. His articles may be read at http://www.vincentgioia.com/ and he may be contacted at