Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Michael Collins: Florida Gov. Crist Makes History

Florida Gov. Crist Makes History


Will end permanent disenfranchisement of
Florida’s 600,000 ex-felons who’ve paid their debt




Newly elected Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (right) says “Good bye to all that”
and distances from disgraced Bush elections policies.

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

TALLAHASSEE, FL (AP) -- Governor Charlie Crist says he will continue working to change the rules so that felons will have their voting rights automatically restored once they have paid their debt to society.

This is one of the most revolutionary and far reaching proposals made by a governor in years. The removal of voting rights for ex-felons, those who have served their time and returned to society, is a direct descendent of the 1890 Mississippi Constitution. This document proudly listed a variety of ways Post Reconstruction whites would remove all political power form black citizens.

Crist announced that this campaign promise was a top reform priority. The St. Petersburg Times quoted him as saying, “I am going to keep pushing to get us where I think we need to be." To accomplish this by edict under Florida law, Crist needs the consent of two or three cabinet members. In order to gain support, the Times reported that there would be exclusions for those convicted of murder, rape, or major drug trafficking.

During Reconstruction black American voting rates in the South were very high. Blacks and whites serving together in elected governments for years. When the Republicans traded the presidency for an end to Federal presence in the former Confederate states, the Compromise of 1876, Reconstruction ended and so did the rights of blacks to vote. This effort is part of general trend scholars Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza termed Democratic Contraction, a means of denying universal suffrage for political advantage.

Once charged with a felony, almost any felony, you lose your right to vote, permanently in 14 states. As a result, 3.9 million Americans are disenfranchised for life due to felony convictions. Over 600,000 Floridians, mostly minority, mostly male, have lost their right to vote even though they have served their sentences. Florida is far from unique.

In Virginia, for example, over 200,000 males, mostly black Americans, have no right to vote due to felon disenfranchisement. Just before leaving office, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner was urged to restore ex felon voting rights by proclamation. He refused. His successor, Tom Kaine, Dem touts the efficiency of the restoration of voting rights. However, only a negligible number of ex felons have been returned to the rolls.

Crist’s proposal represents a serious attempt to right this long time wrong and end the ties between the New South and the racist legacy that survives even today in attacks on the voting rights of black Americans. He does so knowing that this may hurt his party and his own chances for re-election. Why? We can’t know for sure but there is every reason to believe that he’s doing this because it’s the right thing to do and it’s long overdue.

Take Action

Feel free to forward this article to the following governors, all of whom run states where ex felons are denied the right to vote permanently. Tell them you noticed that Gov. Crist will give over 600,000 Floridians the right to vote without expecting anything in return.

State, Governor, percent of total population disenfranchised, percent blacks disenfranchised

Alabama Bob Riley, Rep (7.5 - 31.5%)
Arizona Janet Napolitano, Dem (2.3 - 12.1%)
Delaware Ruth Ann Minner, Dem (3.7 - 20%)
Florida (Send a thank you to Gov Crist) (5.9 - 31.2%)
Iowa Chet Culver, Dem (2.0 - 26.5%)
Kentucky Ernie Fletcher, Rep (0.8 - 7.7%)
Maryland Martin O’Malley, Dem (3.6 - 15.4%)
Mississippi Haley Barbour, Rep (7.4 – 28.6%)
Nevada Jim Gibbons, Rep (1.4 – 10.0%)
New Mexico Bill Richardson, Dem (4.0 – 24.1%)
Tennessee Phil Bredesen, Dem (2.4 – 14.5%)
Texas Rick Parry, Rep (4.5 – 20.8%)
Virginia Tom Kaine, Dem (5.3 – 25.0%)
Washington Christine Gregoire, Dem (3.7 – 24.0%)
Wyoming Dave Freudenthal, Dem (4.1 – 27.7%)

Source, disenfranchisement rates.

See The Sentencing Project for actions and news on giving the vote to all citizens.

Permission to reprint given with attribution of authorship and a link to this article at “Scoop” Independent News.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Pitch Perfect

Among his other blessings, Pope Francis has been a gift to the world of marketing studies. There can be few other examples where a leader has transformed the perception of an enterprise so thoroughly, but without making any discernible change to its core principles. More>>

ALSO:

US Politics: The Democrats Try To Engage With America (Again)

Venues are being rebooked to accommodate the thousands of people coming to listen to Vermont Senator, avowed socialist, and presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders talk about the redistribution of wealth. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Deal Over Iran’s Phantom Nukes (And Nuking Greece’s Future)

How could Iran continue to be expected to do all the military heavy lifting in the battle against Islamic State, while still being economically sanctioned and isolated for the threat that Teheran allegedly poses to the region? More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf 56 Out Now: Pope, Secret Evidence, Point Break, Democrats, Pigeons

Hi and welcome to the 56th edition of Werewolf, in which our cover story this month analyses the remarkable change of global public opinion towards the Papacy that Pope Francis has wrought - especially so, given the depths of unpopularity to which the Vatican had sunk during the reign of his predecessor… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Crisis In Greece

Greece, as the cradle of democracy, is getting no brownie points for actually practicing it. The decision by the Greek government to go back to the people for a mandate for the bailout terms being proposed by the Eurozone seems entirely appropriate. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news