CNS News reported today that Attorney General Eric Holder is about to take aim at laws that do not allow convicted felons to vote. Wonderful. Three days ago Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Justice Department will recognize same-sex marriages in all legal matters, even in states that forbid it. What he is saying is that the Justice Department will overrule the votes of the people in the states that do not allow same-sex marriage.
The article reports:
Holder said state laws that bar felons from voting are “not only unnecessary and unjust, they are also counterproductive” because they perpetuate the “stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals,” increasing the likelihood that they will commit future crimes.
Such “outdated” laws have a “disparate impact on minority communities,” he said, suggesting that this is, at heart, a civil rights issue.
These people are not allowed to vote because they are convicted felons. They are not guilty of misdemeanors–they are convicted felons. They are not being denied the right to vote because of anything but their conviction. They could be pink with purple stripes, and if they had not committed a felony, they would be allowed to vote. This is about committing a crime–this is not about race. Hopefully the Attorney General will not try to make it about race, although the last sentence quoted might be an indication that he plans to.
I would not be opposed to allowing a convicted felon vote after he had been out of prison for twenty years or so and if he had stayed out of trouble during that time. However, I am opposed to simply allowing all convicted felons to vote after they have been released from prison. I would also see this decision made by Congress rather than just done by the Justice Department with the stroke of a pen.