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May 30, 2006



Thanks for bringing this to my attention. As infuriating as it may be.

Give 'em hell.



The miscounting (or not counting) of votes pales in scale to voters who are disenfranchised.

Take ex-cons, for example (I do, because I'm reading Abramsky's book). In election after election across states as diverse as Washington, Ohio, Texas, and Mississippi, most ex-cons either can't or have never been told they can, vote.

The current prison population is 2 million (Texas and California each have about 750,000, but note the population difference).

Estimates of the ex-con population range as high as 10 million, and I'd lay fair money that the distribution parallels the current prison population, meaning that Texas probably has about 3.5 million ex-cons.

I'd lay further odds that of that 3.5 million, only a hundred thousand or so have re-secured their vote. The rest are either ineligible (justifyiably) or prevented from re-registering due to the arcane laws set up such that even lawyers who specialize in regaining felon rights have no clue as to whether an ex-con can or cannot regain his vote.

You can make the case that many ex-cons wouldn't want to vote, but many do. Let's say it runs about 50-50, and let's be really charitable and say that we're talking about 3 million people who could, but don't, have their vote.

That's a million and a half votes right there (and Texas actually has fairly liberal re-enfranchisement laws for the South) in Texas.

And Ohio, proportionately, is even more egregious.



This is absolutely another facet of the problem, one more specifically falling within The Times' scope of what constitutes voter suppression. All the more reason why its absence from their editorial is another glaring omission. This is a huge problem that, as you probably know, also caused the purging of voter rolls in Florida during the 2000 election, which included not only people who had already served their sentence and were eligible to vote, but those who simply had the same last name or full name as someone else who was currently serving a prison sentence.

Your points are well made on the barriers (purposely set in place) to impede criminals who've served their time from voting. And the issue of the exorbitant number of people in prisons in this country also plays into thinning out the voting population as well. Which digresses into a whole other discussion on such problems as draconian drug laws that, for instance, sentence a drug addict to a longer prison term than a rapist.

But all of these points, including the wholesale electronic manipulation of our votes - the most brazen, untraceable, Orwellian voter suppression tactic - should be part of the discourse on this multi-layered topic.

Thanks for adding to the discussion! And thanks for reading.

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