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Thread: 'Felons should get vote, Fed judges, Ruling raises racial issues' WashingtonTimes.com

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    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...home_headlines

    OLYMPIA, Wash. | Incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote in Washington to ensure that racial minorities are protected under the Voting Rights Act, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
    The 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the 2000 ruling of a district judge in Spokane. That judge had ruled that state law did not violate the act, and dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former prison inmate from Bellevue.
    The two appellate judges ruled that disparities in the state's justice system "cannot be explained in race-neutral ways."
    The issues the ruling raises about racial bias in the justice system are not unique to Washington state, said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C., group promoting sentencing reform.
    "They are issues that permeate the justice system and are relevant in every state," he said.
    A spokeswoman said state Attorney General Rob McKenna is weighing the state's next step.
    The lawsuit was filed by Muhammad Shabazz Farrakhan of Bellevue. He was serving a three-year sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for a series of felony-theft convictions when he sued the state in 1996.
    Ultimately, five other inmates, all members of racial minority groups, joined as plaintiffs.
    The lawsuit contended that because nonwhites make up a large percentage of the prison population, a state law prohibiting inmates and parolees from voting is illegal because it dilutes the electoral clout of minorities.
    That was a violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965, the lawsuit said.
    The state contended that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the law was not intended to discriminate against minorities.
    Last year, lawmakers passed a law that allows convicted felons to reregister to vote once they're no longer on parole or probation. Previously, felons who were no longer in Washington state custody but owed court-ordered fines and restitution were not allowed to vote.
    Oregon automatically restores voting rights to felons once they're released from prison. Nearly 40 other states and the District of Columbia also have less onerous restrictions on restoring voting rights to felons.
    Maine and Vermont are the only states that allow those behind bars to cast ballots.


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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    I agree the right to vote should be returned upon completion of your sentence, however I am still on the fence regarding inmates.

    Even if the sentencing disparity is true, this ruling does not affect any reconciliation of those disparities. Therefor I don't see how that is a relevant argument. This is like fudging the books to make it look like you aren't going into bankruptcy.

    If the Voting Rights Act is violated by this disparity, than the court should have ordered the disparities be corrected. This is the proper course of action. Allowing inmates to vote just fudges the numbers, it doesn't fix the problem.

    Inmates are Indentured Persons. These are persons who enter and exit servitude by their own actions. They have VOLUNTARILY forfeited their rights.
    Although Indentured Persons are not Slaves because of the voluntary nature of their servitude, they are NOT FREE MEN.
    illegal ≠ immoral legal ≠ moral
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    I agree with you on that simmons.

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    Master Doug Huffman wrote:
    Incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote in Washington to ensure that racial minorities are protected
    This isn't about allowing felons to vote. It's about making sure that the white vote in Washington is diluted, or that white votes are nullified by non-white votes.

    Many here fail to see where the battle lines are actually drawn and thus waste their energy on matters that will reap no reward.




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    Master Doug Huffman wrote:
    Incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote in Washington to ensure that racial minorities are protected
    [/size]
    If that is the intention, then it goes without saying, that is just plain wrong and even sensible law-abiding minority voters should agree. However, the fact that anyone has suggested it means the world is full of stupid on every level.

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    There is one race, the Human race!!!! The color of our skin, hair, eyes, etc, is all cosmetic.

    This really isn't an issue about "race" either, although this is the excuse they are using. Governor Gregoire has talked about letting felons vote too. Hmmm wonder why, which way do folks in these situations, white or brown vote?

    I do feel though that after the debt to society has been paid, rights should be restored.


    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Here is what is interesting - if "civil rights" lost as a result of state "felony" convictions (which trigger loss of federal gun rights), are restored, so are federal gun rights even if the state continues to bar the felon her gun rights under state law (majority appellate court rule).This implies that whena state restores gun rights, federal gun rights remain lost unless the core 'civil rights" are restored too by the convicting state.

    Civil rights for this purpose are defined by courts as meaning 3 things: the right to vote, the right to run for office, and the right to sit on a jury (thoug a minority of courts look to "the whole of state law" to see if state gun rights are restored in the convicting state).

    I use the word "felony" in quotation marks because the federal gun disabling langauge does not deploy the word felony in its text, though common usuage and court cases do - a person loses her federal gun rights when, except for some specified white collar crimes, she is convicted of any offense where she could have been sentenced for more than one year (except for state offenses explicitly classified as a "misdemeanor"state law, in which case the misdemeanor is still disabling as a matter of federal law

    So tell us Washington residents - do persons convicted in Washington state lose their right to sit on a jury and run for office when they are convicted of "felonies"? if so, are they "restored" by law after serving time? if so, its arguable that the 9th Cr. just retored a whole passle of peoples' gun rights under federal law!

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    Mike wrote:
    Here is what is interesting - if "civil rights" lost as a result of state "felony" convictions (which trigger loss of federal gun rights), are restored, so are federal gun rights even if the state continues to bar the felon her gun rights under state law (majority appellate court rule).This implies that whena state restores gun rights, federal gun rights remain lost unless the core 'civil rights" are restored too by the convicting state.

    Civil rights for this purpose are defined by courts as meaning 3 things: the right to vote, the right to run for office, and the right to sit on a jury (thoug a minority of courts look to "the whole of state law" to see if state gun rights are restored in the convicting state).

    I use the word "felony" in quotation marks because the federal gun disabling langauge does not deploy the word felony in its text, though common usuage and court cases do - a person loses her federal gun rights when, except for some specified white collar crimes, she is convicted of any offense where she could have been sentenced for more than one year (except for state offenses explicitly classified as a "misdemeanor"state law, in which case the misdemeanor is still disabling as a matter of federal law

    So tell us Washington residents - do persons convicted in Washington state lose their right to sit on a jury and run for office when they are convicted of "felonies"? if so, are they "restored" by law after serving time? if so, its arguable that the 9th Cr. just retored a whole passle of peoples' gun rights under federal law!
    In Virginia, restoration of rights takes an affirmative action by the governor.

    There is a push for Governor Kaine to restore the voting rights of all non-violent felons who have done their time before he leaves office in a few days.

    Worth a call to the gov . . . .

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    The Donkey wrote:
    In Virginia, restoration of rights takes an affirmative action by the governor.

    There is a push for Governor Kaine to restore the voting rights of all non-violent felons who have done their time before he leaves office in a few days.

    Worth a call to the gov . . . .
    And Kaine's web site says he does not normally ever restore state gun rights - but there is another avenue vie circuit court petition.

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Mike wrote:

    So tell us Washington residents - do persons convicted in Washington state lose their right to sit on a jury and run for office when they are convicted of "felonies"? if so, are they "restored" by law after serving time? if so, its arguable that the 9th Cr. just retored a whole passle of peoples' gun rights under federal law!
    This is a good question and one Rossi was talking about on a morning show when he was running for governor. I am not sure what Washington's stance is on the other things you mentioned some other senior members more versed in the law would be more qualified to answer your question.

    I have someone close to me who is watching this unfold because he can't have weapons for things done as a juvenile.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    simmonsjoe wrote:
    I agree the right to vote should be returned upon completion of your sentence, however I am still on the fence regarding inmates.
    I agree. As long as your ENTIRE sentence is completed, including Parole/Probation, and payment of any fines or restitution owed. A Parolee is still technically not done with his sentence, he's just being allowed to serve the remainder from outside the bars.

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