One felon, one vote

Published On: Oct 11 2012 10:14:30 AM EDT
Updated On: Oct 11 2012 12:01:49 PM EDT

Courtesy: DoSomething.com

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is under pressure for failing to clean voter rolls of felons and dead people. At least one dead person voted in the primary and instead of investigating, Snipes has been sitting on it.  

Instead of putting her head down and fixing the problem, Snipes has been blaming my colleagues -- Jeff Weinsier, who broke the story, and Michael Putney, who gave his opinion of it.

It seems Snipes feels entitled to hold office, collect a big paycheck, and apparently fail to do the job she was elected to do. She told Weinsier that it was the state's responsibility to notify her to clean the rolls of the unlawful voters in question, an assertion that appears to be hogwash.

Whoever is behind that dead person voting should be prosecuted, plain and simple. And the felons voting was against the law as well, the law Snipes is in office to uphold.

But I can't help but ask: Should it be against the law for felons to vote? Why should people who have paid their debt to society be barred from their right as an American to cast a ballot? Aren't we trying to integrate those men and women back into society? And what harm could it do for them to vote?

It's flat-out wrong and the truth is that Florida is just one of 12 states that do it. Thirty-six states automatically allow felons to vote after they've served their sentence. Two states -- Maine and Utah -- allow completely unrestricted voting; prisoners can vote by absentee ballot.

In Florida felons have to go through a process and be approved by a clemency board before they can vote. And the Republican legislature made it tougher for them last year, according to ProCon.com. From the website:

On Mar. 9, 2011 the Florida rules of Executive Clemency were toughened. Automatic restoration of civil rights and the ability to vote will no longer be granted for any offenses. All individuals convicted of any felony will now have to apply for executive clemency after a five year waiting period. Individuals who are convicted, or who have previously been convicted, of certain felonies such as murder, assault, child abuse, drug trafficking, arson, etc. are subject to a seven year waiting period and a clemency board hearing to determine whether or not the ability to vote will be restored.

Prior to the Mar. 9, 2011 rule change some individuals convicted of non-violent felonies were re-enfranchised automatically by the Clemency Board upon completion of their full sentence, including payment of fines and fees.

Let's see, more bureaucracy and less freedom. Is that the Florida way?

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