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.