« | »

Yippee! More Felons To Vote For Obama!

From a deliriously happy Washington Post:

For Those Once Behind Bars, A Nudge to the Voting Booth

By Krissah Williams Thompson
Monday, August 11, 2008; A01

TALLAHASSEE — Herbert Pompey had gone through rehab, stayed sober, held a job, married and started a landscaping business in the two years since he walked out of Taylor Correctional Institution. But what Pompey hadn’t done — and what he assumed a string of felony drug and DUI convictions would keep him from ever doing again — was vote.

So his pulse quickened when civil rights lawyer Reggie Mitchell called to tell him that his rights had been restored.

“You’re eligible to vote now, Mr. Pompey,” Mitchell said, calmly relaying the news. “Can I bring you a voter-registration card?

Pompey whispered, “Lord, you was listening.”

Mitchell smiled — he had gotten another felon back on the rolls.

Mitchell is a leader of a disparate group of grass-roots Democrats and civil rights activists who are trying to register tens of thousands of newly eligible felons. They have taken up the cause on their own, motivated by the belief that former offenders have been unfairly disenfranchised for decades. Despite massive registration efforts, the presidential campaigns of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have not designated anyone to go after the group.

In Alabama, Al Sharpton’s younger brother, the Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, will take his “Prodigal Son” ministry into state prisons with voter-registration cards for the first time. The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed suit there and in Tennessee to make it possible for an even larger class of felons to register. In Ohio, the NAACP will hold a voter-registration day at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland this month to register “people caught up in the criminal justice system,” a local official said. In California, a team will stand in front of jails on Aug. 16 to register people visiting prisoners and encourage them to take registration cards to their incarcerated friends or family members, some of whom can legally vote.

This is a voting block that has never been open before, and it has opened up at such a time as this,” said Glasgow, who was a felon himself.

In Florida, a law change last year made more than 115,000 felons eligible to vote, according to the state Parole Commission. In other states, civil rights and criminal justice groups estimate there are similar numbers who have not registered…

But getting the ex-offenders registered has been a slow process.

Mitchell, 43, a Democrat and Obama backer, is leading the effort in Tallahassee and has created an “Ex-Felon Targets” database to search for potential voters. He calls getting voter-registration cards to them a “passionate hobby.”

“The majority of people to get their rights restored are Democrats, and if we get them registered, [we] might overtake the state,” he said

The majority of felons in the state are white, and there are no studies on ex-offenders’ party affiliation. Yet black men are disproportionately incarcerated and disproportionately disenfranchised, which Mitchell sees as a civil rights issue. Before the law changed, nearly a third of the state’s black men were banned from voting, according to the Florida chapter of the ACLU

Mitchell left a personal-injury practice in 2004 to become Florida legal director for the nonprofit People for the American Way Foundation. Leading the liberal advocacy group’s state voting rights project, he sent out news releases, lobbied politicians and, in 2006, marched to the statehouse with the ACLU and others, demanding that ex-offenders be allowed to vote.

Since the law was changed, the ACLU and People for the American Way have been reaching out to ex-offenders through Web sites that help people figure out whether the state has acted on their cases. Mitchell oversaw the project that helped build the foundation’s Restore My Vote site ( http://www.restoremyvote.org).

Elizabeth Rhoden, 57, went to the site late last year, punched in her name and sat in her office crying with her dog Lopsy when she read that she had been cleared to vote. Rhoden, who is white, lost her right to vote when she was convicted of a drug charge in 1979.

The things she did when she was “young and stupid” have hung like a cloud over her life, she said, and for years she has been the lone Democrat in her family, complaining about the Bush administrations that have run the country and her state. In 2000, she volunteered for Al Gore’s presidential campaign. In 2004, she worked on a committee to draft Gen. Wesley K. Clark. This year, she cast the first vote of her life — for Obama in the Democratic primary

Pompey drank and drugged for long stretches and cannot remember the last ballot he cast, but he and his wife, Carolyn, are Democrats and admirers of Obama’s campaign because of its historic nature. Several months ago she told him, “We’ve got to get you registered to vote.” …

Ever notice how the “get out the criminal vote” drives are always sponsored by Democrats and other America-hating groups like the (absurdly named) ACLU and the People For the American Way?

Why is that?

Yet black men are disproportionately incarcerated and disproportionately disenfranchised, which Mitchell sees as a civil rights issue. Before the law changed, nearly a third of the state’s black men were banned from voting, according to the Florida chapter of the ACLU.

“Disproportionately incarcarated”? Don’t they mean to say that blacks commit a disproportionate percent of felonies?

And what does it tell you when one third of the black population in Florida cannot vote because they are current or ex-felons?

In Florida, a law change last year made more than 115,000 felons eligible to vote

Just think, if this had only happened a few years ago we would probably be enjoying the second term of the Presidency of Al Gore.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, August 11th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Yippee! More Felons To Vote For Obama!”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.


« Front Page | To Top
« | »