« The "Everyone Uses Turbo Tax" Fallacy | Main | The Right-Wing Blog Operatives »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


seems to work in other places, maybe it should be tried. Along with direct voting for president, with the candidate with the most votes, the winner.


"Your name is immediately entered into a state-level computer system so that you can't vote again that day, and won't need ID in the future."

Somebody alert Joe Klein! Another bulletpoint for his Information Age Isn't The Industrial Age crusade.


Oh Mark, rehabilitation is so old-school liberal. We gave up on that idea a long time ago. Those lefties in Massachusetts decided that the SJC ruling that felons had the right to vote while in prison was no good and decided to amend the Constitution a few years ago to stop them--even though not many actually did.

Maine and Vermont are the last hold-outs.

In all seriousness, I agree that registering to vote should nto be so hard.

Rob W

I am a liberal, but am opposed to a felon voting. However, someone who serves out their sentence should have that right after a certain number of years. I do think punishment is appropriate, and the loss of a right to vote should be part of that punishment.


Taking the right to vote away from felons is simply another way to marginalize large portions of the minority populations in this country. With disproportionate numbers of blacks and hispanics in jails across america, forbidding them to vote is simply a very convenient way to keep the WASPs in power and to keep prison conditions as poor as we like.

Jeff L.

We've got same-day voter registration in Minnesota (much to the chagrin of our hyper-partisan Secretary of State) and I think it has to go some way toward explaining our nation's-best voter turnout rates. I believe my Congressman, Martin Sabo, has made efforts to make same-day registration a nationwide thing, with predictably little progress. I'm all for it, though I will add that you would probably need to address the worry that citizens would be able to vote in multiple states.

Judith Shklar's American Citizenship is a very moving evocation of the importance of the right to vote in American life and history.


Rob W. I prefer to allow incarcerated prisoners to vote, but it's not something I would go to the mat for. (Most of them don't bother anway.)

On the issue of felon voting, I think that you can make a case similar to the one made by those who oppose the death penalty on pragmatic grounds, i.e. it's not fool proof, and it's impossible to be sure that no innocents are harmed. I think that Florida shows that it is too easy to manipulate those lists or to get a middle initial wrong. This disenfranchises many innocent people. I am not comfortable with even one person being denied their right to vote. I would rather err on the side of having a few non-citizens vote rather than preventing citizens from voting.

Disenfranchisement laws mean that the risk of disenfranchising the innocent is unacceptably high.

Also, don't you think that prison is bad enough? I mean, why do we need to prevent these people from re-entering society after they have done their time?


I have to say, I do think people should have to show ID to vote. There isn't really any reason why an 18-yr old person today wouldn't have an ID ( you need to have one to board a plane, even if you don't drive), and people carry their ID's everywhere anyway. It's no hassle to show it, it's not an invasion of privacy (you're telling the voter guys who you are anyway), and it *is* important that the person voting who claims to be me, actually is me. I shouldn't be able to go and vote for all of my male friends, but since I don't need to show any ID in Chicago, I definitely could.


North Dakota has no voter registration (see here), and they seem to get by okay.

Lemon Merengue

Texas restores convicted felons' voting rights 5 years after completion of sentence. it's not a terrible rule. If the felon goes 5 years without committing more felonies, vote away.


In order to disfranchise anyone, the burden of proof should be on those who want to limit the electorate. What problems have felons voting caused in the past? Are these supposed problems great enough to warrant the process of disfranchisement, including false positives? My guess is that their is no practical (as opposed to ideological) reason to disfranchise felons other than partisan advantage.


The background of laws to restrict felons' voting rights makes their purpose clear; it's got nothing to do with anything but minimizing political power by poor people, and especially black poor people. The states that still have the most restrictions are the former Confederacy.


The Constitution does not grant the right to vote to all US citizens. The original constitution permits the States to set the conditions of the franchise. There are many amendents that prohibit the States from abridging the "right to vote on one or another ground, eg the 15th (race), 19th (sex), 24th (no poll tax), 26th (18-year olds). But the 14th Amendment permits the States to deprive any person of "life, liberty or property" so long as it is done in accordance with due process. It would seem that deprivation of the vote would be deprivation of a form of liberty, so it can be a part of a legally imposed punishment.


After reflecting on JR's federalist point, I believe that the right to vote may not be not our most important right. Though I can see why the government is eager to have us, and particularly new citizens, believe it is.

Matt McIrvin

I voted against the Massachusetts amendment. One big reason is that keeping felons from voting provides an incentive to put people who might vote against you in jail for felonies. And given the makeup of the felon population in states that have strict laws against felon voting (especially states that forbid it for life), I don't think this is a fanciful concern.

Matt McIrvin

While it's technically possible, it's actually amazingly difficult for non-drivers to get state ID cards here in Massachusetts. The Registry of Motor Vehicles is in charge of it, and at most RMV offices the people at the desk have no idea how to give you an ID that is not a driver's license.

The comments to this entry are closed.