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Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:32 AM

The Racist Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement

One of the many areas of election law that I have been following is on the restoration of voting rights for persons who were convicted of a crime. The NYT has a great editorial/article on the history of taking the vote away from minorities who commit crimes. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/opinion/the-racist-origins-of-felon-disenfranchisement.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0

The state laws that barred nearly six million people with felony convictions from voting in the midterm elections this month date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Southern lawmakers were working feverishly to neutralize the black electorate.

Poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses and cross burnings were effective weapons in this campaign. But statutes that allowed correctional systems to arbitrarily and permanently strip large numbers of people of the right to vote were a particularly potent tool in the campaign to undercut African-American political power.

This racially freighted system has normalized disenfranchisement in the United States — at a time when our peers in the democratic world rightly see it as an aberration. It has also stripped one in every 13 black persons of the right to vote — a rate four times that of nonblacks nationally. At the same time, it has allowed disenfranchisement to move beyond that black population — which makes up 38 percent of those denied the vote — into the body politic as a whole. One lesson here is that punishments designed for one pariah group can be easily expanded to include others as well.

The history of disenfranchisement was laid out in a fascinating 2003 study by Angela Behrens, Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza. They found that state felony bans exploded in number during the late 1860s and 1870s, particularly in the wake of the Fifteenth Amendment, which ostensibly guaranteed black Americans the right to vote.
There have been a number of good scholarly works on this subject and this editorial/articles summarizes these works. These laws are part of the old Jim Crow era laws designed to keep non-whites from voting:
They also found that the larger the state’s black population, the more likely the state was to pass the most stringent laws that permanently denied people convicted of crimes the right to vote.

These bans were subsequently strengthened as the Jim Crow era began to take hold.

The white supremacists who championed such measures were very clear on their reasons. In 1894, a white South Carolina newspaper argued that voting laws needed to be amended, lest whites be swept away at the polls by the black vote. In 1901 Alabama amended its Constitution to expand disenfranchisement to all crimes involving “moral turpitude” — a vague term that was applied to misdemeanors and even acts not punishable by law. The president of the constitutional convention argued that manipulating the ballot to exclude blacks was warranted, because they were inferior to whites and because the state needed to avert the “menace of Negro domination.”
Rand Paul actually argued that these laws are unjust and need to be eliminated. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/rand-paul-felons-voting_n_3941171.html I was somewhat surprised that Rand Paul took a position that was not stupid.

It is important that we look at these laws. Hopefully more attention will be paid to these laws due to Rand Paul.

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Arrow 38 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Racist Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement (Original post)
Letmypeoplevote Nov 2014 OP
Konservative Nov 2014 #1
Frederick55 Nov 2014 #21
Konservative Nov 2014 #22
Louie Nov 2014 #2
GiovanniJones Nov 2014 #8
MoreCowbell Nov 2014 #12
GiovanniJones Nov 2014 #14
MoreCowbell Nov 2014 #9
starcat Nov 2014 #3
MoreCowbell Nov 2014 #11
starcat Nov 2014 #16
Attila Gorilla Nov 2014 #18
Letmypeoplevote Nov 2014 #33
Jimmy Calhoun Nov 2014 #4
rahtruelies Nov 2014 #20
Dexter Morgan Nov 2014 #27
Jimmy Calhoun Nov 2014 #34
SummBoddie Nov 2014 #5
Jimmy Calhoun Nov 2014 #10
His Daughter Nov 2014 #6
MoreCowbell Nov 2014 #7
MoreCowbell Nov 2014 #13
graham4anything4HC45 Nov 2014 #15
Valishin Nov 2014 #17
rahtruelies Nov 2014 #19
762Justice Nov 2014 #23
Frederick55 Nov 2014 #24
Supercalifragilistic Nov 2014 #25
the more you know Nov 2014 #26
wisbadger Nov 2014 #28
the more you know Nov 2014 #29
OnlyLibsEatVeggies Nov 2014 #30
Phrontistes Nov 2014 #31
Letmypeoplevote Nov 2014 #32
the more you know Nov 2014 #35
Muddling Through Nov 2014 #36
the more you know Nov 2014 #37
LineNew Reply .
the more you know Nov 2014 #38

Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:35 AM

1. A person who does not commit a crime won't lose their vote.

 

That's as colorblind as you can get.

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Response to Konservative (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 10:46 AM

21. +15 years to life. If one doesn't commit a felony, then they don't lose the right to vote. Thus,

 

don't commit the felony and this entire problem is resolved, no?

Why is this so hard for the left to understand?

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Response to Frederick55 (Reply #21)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 10:59 AM

22. Willful blindness. nt

 

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:40 AM

2. Is it "racist" if a white felon has his voting rights suspended?

How about an Asian felon? Is that racist as well? And how come so many potential Democratic voters are non-functioning adults who can't procure an ID and convicted criminal felons?

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Response to Louie (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:15 AM

8. And I'm sure non-ID holding criminals...

are total political junkies and policy wonks who are just dying to vote.

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Response to GiovanniJones (Reply #8)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:24 AM

12. Is that a prerequisite to vote?

Or a determiner of who will or won't vote?

Sounds kinda racist to me.

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Response to MoreCowbell (Reply #12)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:33 AM

14. If they want to vote they should be able to.

I'm actually in favor of restoring all rights to people who have served their time. I'm just saying I doubt these people would be voting that much. Were they big voters before they got felony convictions?

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Response to Louie (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:19 AM

9. potential Democratic voters are non-functioning adults

While accurate, that's racist, too.

Report for re-education, Comrade.

Please excuse the racist smiley waving to you. It is racist and shall be punished.

See? There the gender non-specific little racist goes again. Stop him/her/it, before he/she/it racists again!!

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:50 AM

3. (((everything is racist)))

 

(((everywhere)))


(((all the time)))


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Response to starcat (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:21 AM

11. Surely not Tulips?

Nope, them too. A board of certified MIT Economists have determined that Tulips are racist.

...and stupid.

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Response to MoreCowbell (Reply #11)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 04:44 AM

16. Racist Tulips?

 

that's the first I've heard of that

I hope you're joking...

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Response to starcat (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 06:19 AM

18. (((Nothing is racist)))

(((Anywhere)))

(((Ever)))

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Response to starcat (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 07:52 PM

33. Here are some facts for the conservatives to ignore or not be able to understand

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:56 AM

4. A person who faces greater scrutiny - whether because of race or social class or any other factor -

is more likely to be convicted of a crime. It's not that other people don't commit crimes, they're just not as likely to get caught.

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Response to Jimmy Calhoun (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 10:11 AM

20. You have it backwards sport- first comes the criminality and then the very natural

scrutiny and distrust from decent people.

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Response to rahtruelies (Reply #20)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:30 PM

27. You are pissing them off LOL.

AUTOMATED MESSAGE: Results of your Jury Service

Mail Message
On Thu Nov 20, 2014, 08:17 AM an alert was sent on the following post:

You have it backwards sport- first comes the criminality and then the very natural
http://www.discussionist.com/?com=view_post&forum=1015&pid=277997

REASON FOR ALERT

This post is uncivil, off-topic, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate.

ALERTER'S COMMENTS

"first comes the criminality and then the very natural scrutiny and distrust from decent people"
This is the very definition of the fine old word "prejudice" - *prejudging* people based on a characteristic they share with other people ... yes, race.
It is not "natural" to subject one black person / all black people to special scrutiny because of something another black person / some other black people did.
What it is, is racism.
And what this post is, is racist.
And not civil.

You served on a randomly-selected Jury of Discussionist members which reviewed this post. The review was completed at Thu Nov 20, 2014, 08:28 AM, and the Jury voted 2-5 to LEAVE IT.

Juror #1 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE
Explanation: Make your argument in the thread, not to a jury.
Juror #2 voted to HIDE IT
Explanation: Can we use a can of Racistbegone spray?
Juror #3 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE
Explanation: Oh lord, when will this card finally be played out....
Juror #4 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE
Explanation: Alerter needs to get a life or go back to DU...
Juror #5 voted to HIDE IT
Explanation: No explanation given
Juror #6 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE
Explanation: No explanation given
Juror #7 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE
Explanation: No explanation given

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Response to Dexter Morgan (Reply #27)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 09:31 PM

34. I didn't alert. But I also don't think every group should be judged by its worst members. n/t

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:03 AM

5. I actually agree here.

I have long held that once you have served your time, all your rights should be restored... votes and guns both.

Only possible exception would be for multiple violent felonies, and even then not a permanent ban.

But then I would favor harsher penalties for crimes of violence. Victimless crimes, like simple drug possession, prostitution, etc. should be decriminalized at least, or better, not even be crimes at all.

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Response to SummBoddie (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:20 AM

10. I agree with the vast majority of this post.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:04 AM

6. Be interesting to see what English common law did with the voting rights of serious law breakers

That is the source of much of our law and jurisprudence, though it is not universal.

It should be noted that gun control laws clearly were racist in intent from the get go.

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Response to His Daughter (Reply #6)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:14 AM

7. It should be noted that gun control laws clearly were racist in intent from the get go.

Very true and it was the hated NRA that was instrumental in protecting minority gun ownership in the KKK days when racist really was racist and not a tool to blame hangnails, inconvenient political truths and a distaste for certain Jell-O® salads.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:27 AM

13. Newspaper that calls everything racist

calls this racist......



Are blue snoring smileys racist, too?

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 04:52 AM

17. Seems like

and easy issue to resolve and has little to nothing to do with race:

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 10:08 AM

19. Wanna Vote?

1) Be a Citizen
2) Don't commit major crimes
3) Get a photo ID

Come on people is it REALLY all that hard.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 11:06 AM

23. If you can tell me how many people you have met

that were born with a felony record, then we can discuss if disallowing felons the right to vote is the same as racism.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 11:07 AM

24. If you don't want to lose your ability to vote, don't commit a felony. End of thread.

 

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 11:20 AM

25. Wow... Look how deep we are digging now...

...that all if that faux fearmongering of other suppression in the recent election never happened. Look where the attention goes now. Gonna be tough to find that many bogeymen over the next two years. Especially since all of your pre-election nonsense has just been proven false in just one 24 hour period on Election Day.

You should change your focus to making couches comfy for all of the Dem voters who sit at home instead if voting. You know...couch cushion suppression.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 12:04 PM

26. LetmypeopleCheat, is there anywhere you won't dig for questionable votes?

Just when I thought you couldn't sink any lower you prove me wrong again.

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Response to the more you know (Reply #26)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 01:41 PM

28. Where did he/she get people anyway? I don't "have people"

do you have people?

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Response to wisbadger (Reply #28)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 02:27 PM

29. Only slave owners and mobsters have "people"

and based on the comments I've seen LeymypeopleCheat certainly isn't in the mob... unless you mistake the democrat party for the mob which is certainly understandable.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 02:29 PM

30. Less people voting is never a bad thing.

 

If it were up to me, only property owners with property worth more than $200,000 would be allowed to vote.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 02:40 PM

31. Did you actually read the cited study?


The argument is based on this study, but if you read it, it doesn't make a strong case based on the data.

http://www.socsci.umn.edu/~uggen/Behrens_Uggen_Manza_ajs.pdf

Felons have proved that they are not responsible citizens, and I have no problem with their right to vote being suspended until they demonstrate that they have changed their ways.

But I also have no problem restoring a felons civil rights after they have served their sentences, and proved capable of being productive citizens.

Such restoration should not be automatic, but should require initiative on the part of the person seeking to restore their rights.

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Original post)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 07:26 PM

32. Eric Holder makes case for felons to get voting rights back

Attorney General Eric Holder has done some great work on voting rights and his post here lays out why felon disenfranchisement laws are bad policy http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/eric-holder-makes-case-for-felons-to-get-voting-rights-back/2014/02/11/b0556492-932b-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday called on states to repeal laws that prohibit felons from voting after their release from prison, urging changes that could allow millions more across the country to cast ballots.

In a speech at Georgetown University Law Center, Holder said, “It is time to fundamentally reconsider laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision.”

Holder said that current laws forbidding felons from voting make it harder for them to reintegrate into society. He pointed to a recent study that showed that felons in Florida who were granted the right to vote again had a lower recidivism rate....

The attorney general said that after the Civil War, laws that prohibit felons from voting were a way for post-Reconstruction states to keep blacks from casting ballots. Today, an estimated 5.8 million Americans are not allowed to vote because of current or previous felony convictions. Of those, nearly 38 percent are black.

The Justice Department said that 23 states since 1997 have enacted voting rights overhauls. They include Nebraska, Nevada, Texas and Washington state.
These laws have a disproportionate effect on minorities and are bad policy

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Reply #32)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 09:37 PM

35. These laws only disproportionately affect minorities because

minorities disproportionately commit and are convicted of felonies.

You claim to love facts, why don't we talk about that little fact without you blindly getting mad and calling me a racist?

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Response to the more you know (Reply #35)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 09:41 PM

36. The same reason he is unable to post any of his own ideas

but must spam multiple threads with the words and ideas of others or multiple cartoons. When all you have is a hammer.......

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Response to Letmypeoplevote (Reply #32)

Thu Nov 20, 2014, 09:59 PM

37. I know how you love facts, why don't we share some?

http://ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/JAR_Display.asp?ID=qa05261





Violent Crime Index arrest rates increased substantially for juveniles in all racial groups between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. The rate peaked in 1994 for black and white juveniles, in 1995 for American Indians, and in 1996 for Asians. Following these peaks, the rates declined through 2011 for Asian (78%), American Indian (68%), white (59%) youth and black (61%) youth.
The Violent Crime Index arrest rate in 2011 for black juveniles (627) was 5 times the rate for white (125) youth, 6 times the rate for American Indian juveniles (105), and 15 times the rate for Asian juveniles (41).
In the 1980s, the Violent Crime Index arrest rate for black juveniles was 6 times the white rate. This ratio declined during the 1990s, holding at 4 to 1 from 1998 to 2004. Since 2004, the racial disparity in the rates increased, reaching 5 to 1 in the late 2000s.

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Politicsvotingrightsvotersuppressionfelonydisenfranchismentelections