Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | 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

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Harry/Meghan Affair, And Iran

Those “Meghzit” headlines seem apt, given how closely Britain’s January 31 exit from the European Union resembles the imminent departure from the Royal Family’s top team of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. For young Iranians, the accidental downing of the Ukrainian airliner is just the latest example of the deadly incompetence and dishonesty of their leaders... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Iran Aftermath

So, evidently, you can get away with murder. It looks as though a further escalation in the ongoing war between Iran and the US has been avoided – mainly thanks to Iran NOT responding in kind to the recklessly unhinged behaviour by the United States. Given the massive outpouring of public grief in Iran over the murder of Qassem Soleimani, some reciprocal action by Iran was necessary, but (so far) it has been almost entirely symbolic in nature... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Aussie Bush Fires And Suleimani

In popular culture, Australia is often portrayed as Western civilisation’s last unspoiled frontier, or as its final refuge from planetary disaster. In Nevil Shute’s best-selling 1950s novel On The Beach for instance, Melbourne served as the backdrop ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Best Music Of 2019

This was a year where so many of the highlights came from female musicians. But amid all that richness, there was one standout album... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Scotland’s Renewed Independence Battle

Brexit has always been very much an English obsession... So while it isn’t surprising that Boris Johnson won the election, he might also have lost the United Kingdom in the process. More>>

Analysis: Dotcom Appeal For Surveillance Data Dismissed

Kim Dotcom’s Appeal against the decision allowing the GSCB to withold information as to communications illegally intercepted by them has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal of New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog