Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for states to amend their laws to allow felons to vote once their debt to society is paid. Among his assertions is the idea that those who are permitted to vote after they have served their sentences are less likely to reoffend.
The article makes strong arguments for fairly assessing the issue of race given the disproportionate number of African Americans caught up in the penal system. I am not sure this relates well to comparing the plight of felons to ours, other than many people are simply prejudiced. Given the fact that states have jurisdiction over voting privileges and statutes vary considerably, one can imagine the long protracted process entailed in such amending. The state of Delaware, that domestic haven of tax abuse, also changed its law to permit some felons to vote once they’re out of jail, but not if the felon is a murderer, a sex offender, or guilty of felony bribery. Seems ironic that such a state would equate felony bribery with murder or sex offences. However, one can hardly imagine a legitimate reason that would deny these individuals their rights once they have paid their debt to society. Alexander Keyssar, author of The Right to Vote (2009) states “[d]isenfranchisement for [serious] crimes had a long history in English, European, and even Roman law, and it was hardly surprising that the principle of attaching civil disabilities to the commission of crimes appeared in American law as well.” He also alleges that “disenfranchisement, whether permanent or for an extended period, served as retribution for committing a crime and as a deterrent to future criminal behavior.”
I see some basic comparisons to the unfair situation expats experience if they wish to exercise their constitutional right to vote. According to AARO those rights have often been “thwarted by inconsistent state regulations governing voter registration, by late arrival of ballot applications and the ballots themselves, and by lack of clear and timely information on how to vote.” AARO has been working for more than three decades to make the system easier and more efficient, and to ensure that overseas voters are aware of their rights.” The current situation results in nothing less than taxation without representation. None of our elected representatives seem to grasp this inequity. Certainly the Homelanders, along with all their other misperceptions, wrongly assume that this right is exercised and undeserved by those “tax cheats living abroad, not paying their fair share.”
This makes me wonder if expats should ask AG Holder to challenge the system that limits their ability to vote effectively. After all, if they want to penalize us to high heavens, the least they could do with all that undeserved money, is to count us!