Letter to the Editor

Voting rights of convicted felons

Sunday, August 18, 2019

As near as I can figure, voting in this country is both a right and a privilege. That being said, I find it both interesting and challenging to see how much attention these days is being given to restoring the voting rights of convicted felons. The argument for seems to be that because they have served their prison sentence/completed parole, they should be able to have their voting rights/privileges restored.

A few considerations may be relevant here. I wonder how many folks in prison, or the recently released, are clamoring to be able to vote? Anyone done some serious research on this? I would think that there would be a much greater number of felons wanting to find a decent paying job and get on with their lives. Oh yes, and how about the fines, penalties, child support, court costs and victim reparation dollars that have not been addressed, satisfied or reduced over the time of incarceration?

Granted, someone who has spent five to 30 years in prison has not likely been able to accumulate a bunch of cash to satisfy the financial debt associated with his/her crime. But for heaven's sake, isn't it reasonable and fair to expect the person to have made a good faith effort and to have an actual working plan in place before just automatically returning them to the ranks of the voting public? Sure, it is a matter of restoring dignity and reclaiming a fuller measure of the rights of citizenry, but if you've neglected to contribute to restorative justice in the above matters, I'm thinking you can wait for the voting rights to be restored. It doesn't seem to be especially punitive to get this piece moving in the right direction.

Demonstrating responsibility, cooperating with one's parole officer, taking care of just debts all count. At least, they should count!

Bill Kersting, Spencer