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Janice's Journal

Janice’s Journal: All Felons Deserve the Right to Vote

Although the next major election is more than a year away, it’s not too early to focus on who is eligible to vote. This issue is important because the total number of voters, in general, and the groups of people eligible to vote, could determine the result of that election.

I am saying this while watching a struggle in Florida. A struggle about who may be eligible to vote in November 2020 and beyond.

As the number of candidates for the 2020 election continues to grow, the State of Florida is considering whether to prohibit individuals convicted of a felony who have not yet paid court fees and fines from voting, a position that I strongly oppose. I also strongly oppose a recent decision by the State of Florida to prohibit anyone convicted of a felony sex offense from voting.

There is a long and sad history in the United States of America regarding an individual’s eligibility to vote. The earliest prohibitions to voting flowed from the U.S. Constitution which barred some men and all women from voting. These wrongs were subsequently corrected with the passage of the 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution.

Unfortunately, after the Constitution was amended many states and local governments created new prohibitions to voting through the creation of obstacles such as poll taxes, the ability to read and felony convictions. Most of those obstacles have been successfully challenged in court, however, one of those obstacles – felony convictions – continue in many states.

This obstacle has caused great harm to many individuals and to entire families whose members have been denied the right to vote for more than 200 years. This obstacle is not based upon justice or even common sense. Instead, this obstacle is based, in part, upon an unfounded notion that giving the right to vote to felons may provide an advantage to one political party as compared to another.
What nonsense! No one can predict the future votes of those convicted of a felony.

The individuals in that group are just that….individuals….who have their own points of view and belong to a variety of political parties. The smart thing for every political party to do is to support voting rights for all felons. If that should happen, then the new voters would not feel an allegiance to only one party, the party who supported their voting votes.

It is time to stop this injustice! Individuals must be given the right to vote regardless if they have been convicted of a felony. Any felon. Including conviction of a felony sex offense.

 

Join the discussion

  1. Lake County

    What I find most interesting is that many felons and the general public just assume felons cannot vote in any state including CA. It would be great if funds could be obtained to start an advertising campaign to let felons know of their right to vote in many states.

    • DV

      I make it my personal and professional mission to help felons vote, every election.

  2. R M

    A person imprisoned, on parole, on probation, subject to any kind of supervision, or etc is still a citizen. Are they afraid we might have a different view than others? I believe so.

    • Anonymous

      If on proba inNY, yes you can vote. P.O.’s discourage it LOL seriously.

    • NPS

      In California, felons CAN vote even if they are on probation (I voted when I was on probation). You can also vote while in county jail.

      • Janice Bellucci

        Thank you, NPS, for the reminder that individuals on probation in CA have the right to vote. A registrant in this state was recently told by his probation officer that he did not have the right to vote. After the registrant took the officer a printed statement from the website of the Registrar of Voters contradicting him, the probation officer wisely agreed that the registrant did indeed have a right to vote. This is an example of why it is important to know your voting rights.

        • Fuzzy

          When I was on parole in Michigan 8 years ago, and asked about voting, my PO actually encouraged me to vote. Her exact words were “How else would your voice be heard?”

        • AJ

          “This is an example of why it is important to know your voting rights.”
          —–
          This is also an example highlighting the fact POs don’t know the laws as well as they think they do. My personal experience was a PO telling me Federal Law prohibits my presence on the campus of a college or university unless enrolled. Clearly he was way off base, given the Feds have ZERO residency or presence restrictions. FWIW, this State also has no such law. I also had POs tell me I must carry my SO registration info with me at all times. Again, nope. No Federal or (this) State law says so.

          ALWAYS research your issue with a subject matter expert. POs are rarely that. In this case, the subject matter expert is the Registrar of Voters.

      • Eric Knight

        In California, one can only vote while incarcerated if the individual has not been convicted of a crime, as long as he is not serving an existing sentence at the same time.

        • David

          @ Eric: Could you please clarify your comment, “….. incarcerated if the individual has not been convicted of a crime”.
          How would someone be incarcerated if they had not been convicted of committing a crime? Or do you mean people in jail who are awaiting trial?

        • NPS

          @Eric Knight

          INCORRECT.

          In the State of California, people who have a criminal conviction CAN VOTE if he/she was:
          1. In county jail: serving a misdemeanor sentence (a misdemeanor never affects your right to vote); Because jail time is a condition of probation (misdemeanor or felony); Serving a felony jail sentence; Awaiting trial
          2. On probation
          3. On mandatory supervision
          4. On post-release community supervision
          5. On federal supervised release
          6. A person with a juvenile wardship adjudication

          Those who CANNOT vote are those in a state or federal prison; in jail awaiting transfer to prison; serving a state prison sentence in a county jail; in county jail for a PAROLE violation; or are on parole. Your right to vote is restored once parole is successfully completed.

      • Jason

        I voted a few months back while on felony Probation in CA. Hoping this next election I can work a station.

  3. Nicholas Maietta

    Thank you again, Janice for once again bringing this to attention of readers, existing and new. Everyone who can vote, should vote. Doing so is not only our right, but our civic duty.

  4. kat

    What is the point of a court mandated sentence? Isn’t it supposed to be to punishment for the crime committed?
    If so, then why are felons continued to be punished “after” they’ve completed their sentence with denials of the right to vote or being placed on a registry which has no empirical evidence to back up it’s claims of “keeping the public safer”?
    How is all this “punishment after the fact” even legal?

  5. AA

    Watch Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Voice Support For Voter Rights For All

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADkxdxxX5qo

    VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!!

  6. David

    I heard a 2020 candidate say she opposed those in prison voting because they could be pressured by guards to vote for one candidate or another. That’s absurd! Your rights are abridged because someone else might break the law & violate those rights? So by extension, for example, people cannot go out after dark or ride public transportation because someone might mug them? (And that was from a former State attorney general!)

  7. David

    As if all convicted felons would vote for A FROG!
    (Anarchists For Radical Overthrow of Government ….. a political party which does NOT exist.)

  8. e

    We are scum to all EXCEPT if they can use us to get more votes. Well, I for one don’t care about ever voting again. The politicians will turn their backs on us as soon as it suits their agenda, and since everything today is about social perception and not logic or fact, the agenda will be to please the public. Sure you can vote, it just won’t make a difference in the long run. Since I am single now, and my life has been reduced to only caring about myself and those not living in U.S. that I care for, I could really care less about anything that happens in this country. I will make my money, not get involved, and get out as soon as I am financially able. Sorry 😐

    • NPS

      Then why are you even in this forum? Our votes don’t count? Everyone of those members of the Public Safety Committee was voted into their position. In the last couple of terms, those elected state officials have actually passed bills that helped us or killed bills that would have harmed us.

      If you don’t want to vote, that’s fine. Don’t complain when a law is passed that you might not like. And definitely DO NOT ever discourage someone from voting.

      • David

        @ NPS: I’m with you. Our voices and our presence DID matter in Sacramento. We can – and DO – have an impact. When an entire room of us stand up to oppose a Bill (or support one), the lawmakers DO take notice of us.

    • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

      A round of applause for our dismotivational speaker, “e” who not only inhabits an exceedingly narrow slice of time and space but can imagine nothing beyond it. His is the trap into which we must not fall, also popularly known as “F.U.D.: fear, uncertainty and doubt.

      • e

        Not fearful, uncertainty is the only certainty in life, and yes, doubtful that it will ever change here. I guess that better than putting my sunshine blinders on, throwing a tickertape parade every time they throw you a scrap, and not paying attention to reality.
        I do get upset when my life is interrupted by this crap. I also stop for moments and realize the system is so broken that my time is better spent living my life and not trying to save others from this shit. And to NPS, I can come on here and say how I feel or do I only have to agree with your opinion…….

        • NPS

          Re-read my last paragraph and you’ll have your answer.

        • Will Allen

          I’ve read all of your comments, I think, and I have to say that I agree with them to a large extent. I think it is most useful to be very realistic.

          But, as I replied to Janice B. the other day when she asked if people should attempt to eliminate the Registries completely and/or just keep working at “incremental” improvements, I think you have to always fight to control the criminal legislators and try to get incremental/minor/significant improvements as you can, but that a person should always include an attitude/statement of “Registries are not acceptable” in everything they do. As I said before, I really do think it would be useful to create a simple motto/statement and repeat it EVERY SINGLE TIME anyone says anything regarding anything related to Registries. Always. Let the un-Americans see the same denunciation every day.

          It is hard to imagine the Registries going away and I’m not really expecting that for at least a decade, maybe decades. So that part I do feel is fairly hopeless. I do expect that my time is better spent just living life because I’ve made my life so that the Registries don’t affect me much. I literally don’t give one shit about who knows that I am Registered. The Registries have cured me of giving a damn about anyone or their opinions. About the only way that the Registries really affect me is with traveling. That part is unacceptable. The only other way is when I have to visit the law enforcement criminals occasionally in order to give them some information. That part is not a huge deal. It’s inconvenient but in the grand scheme of my life, it is very little.

          So I could fairly easily ignore all of this Registry stuff for the most part and not try to “save others from this shit”, as you said. But what other noble causes should I undertake instead? I’ve already committed myself to ensuring that I will never help random people with anything again. I will not give to charities, I will not volunteer, I will do nothing to help others. So perhaps I should contribute somehow? I think I will help with civil liberties and reducing big government harassment. Why should people like Janice help if no one else will?

          I have accepted that the Registries probably aren’t going anywhere. So the harassers can have their Registries but I’m not going to ignore their crimes. They are going to pay dearly.

  9. AERO1

    Obviously voting is very important all these unconstitutional pc290 laws that make people’s lives a living hell people actually voted those laws into existence

  10. Eddie V.

    I live in San Jose Cal I work at the polling pleces. It’s alot of hard work but it’s reward is that I’m helping in our democracy n them who might not know they can vote or are afraid to I help them to vote EVERY VOICE needs to be heard

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