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Why prisoners should not vote

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Why prisoners should not vote

Why prisoners should not vote
May 09
15:07 2019

Before addressing the voting rights of imprisoned criminals, we need to note that America has more people in prison than any nation on earth.  In terms of “per capita,” we are the third highest nation.  That is a shameful statistic for a nation that values itself as a land of opportunity and personal freedom.  We really need to address that problem from its core causes –that is for another commentary.

There is a movement primarily within the left sector of the Democratic Party to pass laws that will enable folks currently incarcerated in the hoosegow to vote in elections.

This is neither a unique nor new idea.  Maine and Vermont already allow prisoners to vote in elections.  One might attribute that to the peculiarity of the people of those states.  We used to say that “as goes Maine, so goes the nation.”  In these more modern times, we are more likely to say, “as goes Maine, so goes Vermont.”

I have long held that the only thing that has prevented Vermont from being booted out of the United States is maple syrup.  One should not forget that the good people of Vermont have given the Senate socialist Bernie Sanders and closet socialist Patrick Leahy.  Maine is a bit more mainstream with Independent (Democrat) Angus King and Republican Susan Collins – who will have a tough time not being replaced in 2020.

In terms of having prisoners voting, I guess one can say that crazy ideas come from crazy places.

Sanders is the leading advocate of enabling locked-up felons to elect our public officials.  His argument is simple, but wrong.  He says there is no reason why even the most heinous killer or rapist should be denied the right to select our public officials.

Sanders sees it as a wrongful denial of basic civil rights.  Apparently, it has not occurred to him that imprisonment IS a basic denial of civil rights.  Commit the crime, do the time and you lose any number of your rights – not the least of which is your right to walk down to the corner pub for a stein of beer.  You no longer have the right to assemble in public.  You lose your right to privacy.  You have no protection from search and seizure.  In other words, imprisonment, by its very nature is a denial of rights.

But what about the right to vote?

People in prison are determined to have been anti-social – against the norms of a free society.  Giving prisoners the right to vote – including the most vicious of them – is an affront to the victims of crime.  Sanders would give murderers the very right to vote that they so dramatically denied to their victims.  To some level or another, every criminal has taken away some right of a person – the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The right to possess and use their own property.  The right to the sanctity of their own body.  And so forth.

One must assume that if prisoners have the right to vote, candidates will be obligated to campaign for their vote. This would seem to make prisoners the likely supporters of those candidates who are … as they say … “soft on crime.”  Prisoners would be voting presumably against district attorneys who prosecuted them and judges who sent them to the slammer.

Is it possible that mostly Democrats favor voting rights for prisoners because they hope to add millions of new voters to their cause?  Proponents of the idea note that in Vermont, most prisoners are registered Republicans and voted for President Trump.  That may be true but it is not the situation at the national level – or in most states.  Most studies would give Democrats a wide margin because of the disproportionate black prison population.  That may reflect an injustice, but it is a fact – and between 80 and 95 percent of blacks vote Democrat.

Vermont may be peculiar (again) in that the very liberal folks of the Green Mountain State do not live next to blacks.  In fact, blacks amount to little more than 1.2 percent of the population.  Therefore, Vermont will have mostly white prisoners.  (I am still dubious about the Trump vote among prisoners in Vermont since it is just conjecture AND most folks in Vermont are very liberal Democrats.)

We currently have 2.3 million Americans locked up.  That is enough to tip a presidential election – and that is exactly why Democrats want to add that voting bloc.  But opposition is not based purely on partisanship.  It is bad idea on the merits.

Maybe prisoner voting is the reason Vermont has a Bernie Sanders.  That would be reason enough to oppose the idea.

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Alton L. Mills
    Alton L. Mills May 10, 19:44

    You are Spot on with this. Dems want whats good for them and not for the Country.

    Reply to this comment
  2. The brain
    The brain May 10, 20:26

    Well and thoughtfully stated, Larry. Like Barretta used to say, “If you can’t do da time, don’t do da crime” One of the long standing penalties for convicted felons is losing their right to vote in national elections. Whining after the fact falls on deaf ears to those of us with at least half of our mental capacities still working. As usual, the left supports this ridiculous idea, not through logic, but because it feels good (and potentially supports their political agendas).

    Reply to this comment
  3. Donald Mccormick
    Donald Mccormick May 10, 21:12

    First of ALL it would be hard to get the righr ballot to the right prisoner and the prisoners might sell their vote to other prisoners and those ballots could be used to to get drugs into the prison. Lasy but not least is the FACT that they were here ILLEGALLY.
    It is like almost any other country just letting all of their prisoners to have a vote and the candidate just tells them that he will FREE ALL prisoners if he was elected but the prisoners would not know if they believe that candidate and that candidate just adds many years to their sentence because they accepted BRIBE to vote for that candidate.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Chuck
    Chuck May 11, 13:05

    Excellent article and spot on. Very good.

    Reply to this comment

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