When the votes are tallied in Virginia’s race for governor on Tuesday, over 300,000 citizens will be missing from the voting rolls – including 20% of the state’s black population. The reason is not low turnout or voter ID, but a growing and often invisible barrier to voting that is upending elections around the country.
Over 5 million Americans are barred from voting because they have criminal records, according to a report this year from the Sentencing Project.
The crackdown on ballot access is so intense, a majority of states actually bar former convicts from voting even after they are released from prison.
Except for my fellow blogger Bob Lowry I probably know more felons than most who pen blog pages. And for the most part these guys are no different from anyone else except for the fact that they made a stupid decision in their lives and paid for it by spending time behind bars. Our society used to say you do the crime you do the time and then everything is square.
One of the most fundamental rights in a democracy is the right to vote. One person – one vote is critical to maintaining a democratic system. Most, even in the GOP, recognize that the demographics are constantly being skewed away from the Republican party of mainly WASPS. But instead of trying to broaden their message to include this new demographics many Republican dominated States are trying to maintain power by restricting the vote. They figure they can hold off the tide for a number of years by keeping others outside their base from being able to vote. The main way to do that is by eliminating those who might vote against them.
It is alarming to see that over 300,000 citizens in Virginia have been purged from the voting rolls because of having served time in its prison system. Over 5 million have been purged nationally. Of course studies have shown that when you restrict voting by this group you “tend to take more votes from Democrats than Republicans. If you look at the map of total exclusion it should come as no surprise that the majority of State who take away voting privileges are in the solid red category.
Prior to the Civil Rights period many of these same States had restrictions of African-Americans from voting. So voting restriction is not a new thing; it is just being taken to a new level by a political party desperate for holding power.
I just don’t think that many people actually are aware how fragile a working democracy is. While none of these current attacks on voting rights would probably result in crossing the line, when taken together do jeopardize our country.