INDEPENDENT NEWS

Michael Collins: Florida Gov. Crist Makes History

Published: Mon 5 Mar 2007 08:24 PM
Florida Gov. Crist Makes History
Proposes to end permanent disenfranchisement of
Florida’s 600,000 ex- felons who’ve paid their debt
By Michael Collins
Extract from… The Long Road to Democracy
5 March 2007 *** Published every Monday
Newly elected Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says “Good bye to all that” and distances from disgraced Bush elections policies.
TALLAHASSEE, FL (AP) -- Governor Charlie Crist says he will continue working to change the rules so that felons will have their voting rights automatically restored once they have paid their debt to society.
This is one of the most revolutionary and far reaching proposals made by a Southern governor in years. The removal of voting rights for ex-felons, those who have served their time and returned to society, is a direct descendent of the 1891 Mississippi Constitution. This document proudly listed a variety of ways Post Reconstruction whites would remove all political power form blacks. During Reconstruction black voting rates in the South were very high with blacks and whites serving together in elected governments. When the Republicans traded the presidency for an end to Federal presence in the former Confederate states, Reconstruction ended and so did the rights of blacks to vote.
Once charged with a felony, almost any felony, you lose your right to vote, permanently. Some 600,000 Floridians, mostly minority, mostly male, have lost their right to vote even though they have served their sentences. Florida is far from unique.
In Virginia, for example, 200,000 minority males, mostly black Americans, have no right to vote due to felon disenfranchisement. Just before leaving office, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner was urged to restore ex felon voting rights by proclamation. He refused. His successor, Tom Kaine, Dem. touts the efficiency of the restoration of voting rights. However, only a negligible number of ex felons have been returned to the rolls.
Crist’s proposal represents a serious attempt to right this long time wrong and end the ties between the New South and the racist legacy that survives even today in attacks on the voting rights of black American.
For more background see Democratic Contraction? Political Consequences of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States.
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Florida Voting Politics Heats Up
Another hand counted paper ballot initiative.
Long time voting rights activist, William Faulkner, offered a major proposal to advance the reform of Florida voting. In an OpEdNews.Com article, Faulkner took the reality of Florida’s conversion to all optical scan machines a step further. The essence of his proposal was summarized in the article:
(Governor) Crist called for more citizen involvement and input, an abrupt change from the previous eight years of dictates issued form Tallahassee.
I take Governor Crist at his word and as a result, I provided the following plan for future elections in Florida – accurate and fraud free.
That’s a large claim but the solution provide within the following involves simultaneous a) optical scan counting and hand counting of optical scan ballot with b) the hand counted paper ballots serving as the ballot o record. Each process checks the other and the entire process serves as both a tabulation of votes and a simultaneous audit, conducted in the open by citizen’s not private concerns.
Credit: Barrybar (Flickr)
Republican Governor Crist promised to seek more input from citizens. One of his initiatives is to eliminate touch screens form Florida voting. Another is to end the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of Floridians by lifting the ban against former felons (who have served their time) from voting.
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