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February 8, 2007

Disenfranchisement News

Florida: Gov. Crist and HUD Secretary Kemp to Discuss Rights Restoration; Voting Rights Conference Scheduled in April
Alabama: Formerly Incarcerated Individuals May Still Register to Vote as Decision is Under Appeal
Maine: No More Voting in Prison for Some, Resolution Proposes
Washington State:
Support for Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated
Alaska: Law Review Investigates Bringing Disenfranchisement Case to Court

Florida: Gov. Crist and HUD Secretary Kemp to Discuss Rights Restoration; Voting Rights Conference Scheduled in April
At the request of the NAACP and ACLU, Gov. Charlie Crist was scheduled to meet with former vice-presidential candidate, congressman and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp last week to talk about rights restoration, according to The Tampa Tribune. Kemp, a former GOP, and current lobbyist and civic activist, said he favors rights restorations “with conditions.” He said rights restoration would “encourage behavior modification in prison … I want the prison population to know that there is redemption.” Crist and Kemp reportedly will speak on the issue via phone after weather condition postponed their meeting.

A human rights and enfranchisement conference entitled “Breaking Barriers to the Ballot” is scheduled April 17-18 at the Miami Sofitel Hotel sponsored by the ACLU of Florida, the ACLU Human Rights Program and the Felon Enfranchisement Project of the ACLU Racial Justice Program. Experts in human rights and felony disenfranchisement policy will discuss human rights standards and strategies for relaying enfranchisement issues to the public. Some travel and accommodation scholarships will be awarded based on demonstrated need. For more information contact the Human Rights Program at (212) 549-2663/ ahardikar@aclu.org or the Racial Justice program at (212) 519-7842/dblanding@aclu.org.

Alabama: Formerly Incarcerated Individuals May Still Register to Vote as Decision is Under Appeal
Alabama Attorney General Troy King filed a reply brief in the case of State v. Gooden, which is currently under appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court, restating that only those who have been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude should not be registered to vote. This was the last in a host of briefs submitted by plaintiffs and defendants. The State has requested oral argument, which may be set by the Court. In the meantime, state registrars are required to continue to follow state law and constitutional requirements. For more coverage see the Attorney General’s Web site and All American Patriots News.

Maine: No More Voting in Prison for Some, Resolution Proposes
Representatives from Maine’s Department of Corrections and the Maine ACLU gave testimony to the Joint Standing Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs in opposition of LD 300, a resolution proposing an amendment to Maine’s Constitution to restrict voting privileges of certain incarcerated felons. Currently, Maine’s Constitution grants all incarcerated persons the right to vote by absentee ballot. The amendment would limit certain individuals from voting while incarcerated based on their crime of conviction.

“Regardless of the crime committed, it should not prohibit them from making personal choices in who will be representing them, their families and communities in State and local government,” stated Wesley E. Andrenyak, Chief Advocate Maine Department of Corrections. “This serves to keep the individual involved in current affairs, and connected to the community and his or her family during their sentence and upon their release.” Similar legislation has been defeated in recent years in Maine.

Washington State:  Support for Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated
The editorial board of the Columbian in Washington State supports the restoration of voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals because it believes voting is imperative to re-connecting with society and helps in promoting civic awareness and participation. The newspaper published an editorial in support of House Bill 1473, currently before the Legislature, which would allow felons to vote after completion of incarceration. Current Washington law requires formerly incarcerated persons to complete community supervision, payment of restitution, court costs and fines. The editorial argues the current stipulation gives individuals who are well-off an unfair advantage over those who are poor and that restoration should not be based on affluence or income level.

Alaska: Law Review Investigates Bringing Disenfranchisement Case to Court
The Alaska Law Review published “Felon Disenfranchisement in Alaska and the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” by Christopher Murray, an article that delves into the racially disproportionate impact of Alaska’s disenfranchisement laws. The article also looks into the prospects of challenging the state’s laws in court. “A case brought in Alaska, on different facts and before a different court, may well invalidate the state’s practice of disenfranchising felons on the basis of its racially disproportionate impact,” the article states.

Issue Area(s): Felony Disenfranchisement
State(s): Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Alaska, Washington, Maine