This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:
The Saturday Night Card Game now is being held in luxurious, highly posh surroundings, but nothing has changed. The Game remains the same.
Tonight we will examine the controversy in Florida regarding plans to impose a 5-year waiting period before ex-felons can vote. Ex-felon voting rights had been restored in 2007, but the new Republican Governor and Attorney General moved swiftly to reinstate a 5-year ban:
The 2007 rule change spurred more than 100,000 ex-felons to earn the ability to register to vote ahead of the 2008 election in which then-candidate Barack Obama swept Florida. Experts say many of those new voters were likely Democratic-leaning African Americans.
The new rule, drafted by Attorney General Pam Bondi, had not been released publicly until just moments before Wednesday’s meeting of the state’s executive clemency board, which consists of Scott, Bondi and two other statewide elected officials – all of them Republican.
The ex-felon restrictions take place against the backdrop of charges that voter i.d. laws in Florida are part of an attempt, according to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to return to Jim Crow laws.
And sure enough, the changes for ex-felons has brought explicit charges of racism as evidenced in this piece at The Daily Beast, Florida’s Racist New Law (emphasis mine):
But whether the move was simply tough-on-crime posturing or something more nefarious remains an open question. Howard Simon of the Florida ACLU recalls the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, in which George W. Bush carried the state by the slimmest of margins and was declared the victor only after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. He suggests that the new law might have been designed to deny voting rights to as many people as possible before the 2012 presidential election. “The unseemly haste and lack of transparency suggests clearly that this was politics disguised as public policy,” Simon said….
“It’s really not about what’s right or fair,” said Ken Lumpkin, an attorney and political activist in Cleveland. “This is about stealing elections and hurting an individual’s chances of starting over after prison. If felons had had the franchise in Florida back in 2000, over a million more people would have been eligible to vote, and the election would not have been close enough for the Supreme Court to give it to Bush. What this new governor is doing is rolling back the clock on minority rights. And with Republican governors and legislative majorities in states like Ohio and Wisconsin, no one should be surprised if they try to change the rules in those states also. If that happens, a Democratic candidate for president won’t stand a chance.”
As to the public policy, it doesn’t seem that a 5-year waiting period is unduly harsh or restrictive. And as to the charge of racism, even if non-whites were a higher percentage of the ex-felon population than of the general population, that would not be racist; white ex-felons similarly are barred.
But more important, notice the implicit assumption that ex-felons would be likely to vote for Democrats. I’d like to take issue with that, but I’m not sure I could.