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IraGlacialis
10-22-2008, 11:25 AM
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Vermont, Maine only states to let inmates vote

RUTLAND, Vt. – The prison inmates had to think for a moment when Missy Shea of the Vermont Secretary of State's office asked them to name the only crime that would prevent an incarcerated person from voting in the state.
"Murder," answered one of the men gathered in the library of the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility. Others guessed treason or domestic assault.
"You're all going to have really good answers, but you're not going to get it," Shea said during a voter registration session at the jail earlier this month. "Election fraud."
No one in Vermont can remember the last time anyone was convicted of election fraud, making it and Maine the only two states that allow all inmates to vote. Officials in both states say interest in voting in the presidential election is up among prisoners as Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain campaign for the White House.
"We do have a fair number of prisoners who are doing it," said Jeffrey Merrill, warden at the maximum-security Maine State Prison in Warren.
One of the Marble Valley inmates who registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot — inmates in Vermont and Maine are residents of the towns where they resided at the time of their incarceration — was Elliot Russell, 31, of Bennington, who is serving an eight-month sentence for aggravated assault.
"A lot of guys feel, being in jail, we get treated beneath other people when in fact we can be treated as equals," Russell said. "I'm glad I get to vote now. You couldn't do it in New York, but I'm going to do it out here."
In Vermont, the position on voting rights is enshrined in the state's 1793 Constitution: "Any elector who shall receive any gift or reward for the elector's vote, in meat, drink, moneys or otherwise, shall forfeit the right to elect."
"Vermont has taken the position the more we can get folks in prison involved in the community in a responsible way, the better their chances of reintroducing them to the civilian world in a responsible way," Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said.
Nationally, states began restricting felons' rights to vote in the early years of the 19th century, said Alexander Keyssar, a Harvard University historian and author of "The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States."
In most states, people incarcerated on misdemeanor convictions can vote, Keyssar said. In some other states, there are circumstances that allow some felons to vote.
"The rationale for disfranchisement has never been particularly compelling or clear," Keyssar said.
One reason for restricting the right to vote is retribution, to punish a felon for violating the norms of society, while another is to protect the purity of the ballot box, he said.
"There is zero evidence that somebody who robs a gas station is more likely to violate the purity of the ballot box," he said. "The linkage between crimes and election crimes just isn't there."
In the 1790s the Vermont Legislature tried to outlaw inmate voting, but it was overruled in 1799 by the Council of Censors, a now-defunct fourth branch of government that met every seven years to decide constitutional questions, said Montpelier attorney Paul Gillies.
The most recent effort to outlaw prison voting in Vermont came in the early 1980s. The office of then-Secretary of State Jim Douglas — he is now governor — trotted out the 1799 precedent and quashed the idea, said Gillies, who served as Douglas' deputy secretary of state.
"It's really an abomination that felons are allowed to vote," said Rob Roper, the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. "Who are they going to vote for? The people who are going to spend more money on prisons and who are going to let them out early so they can commit more crimes?"
No one tracks how many Vermont inmates cast ballots. Groups have conducted registration drives at some prisons.
Several years ago, the nonprofit group Vermont Protection and Advocacy received a grant to help people with disabilities register to vote. The group has worked with disabled inmates as well as those without disabilities, said advocate Tina Wood.
This fall, Wood registered 73 inmates at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport and has been working in other facilities, too.
"I've seen a huge increase in the number of inmates who wanted to vote over two years ago or four years ago," Wood said.
Earlier this year in Maine, the NAACP conducted a voter registration drive of inmates, which drew about 200 participants.
While Vermont inmates can vote, political activity inside prisons is forbidden.
"It's our job to facilitate," said Carol Collea, an attorney for the Department of Corrections, "but not to campaign."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081022/ap_on_el_ge/prison_voting

pekka elo
10-22-2008, 11:41 AM
I think all inmates should be allowed to vote. In addition to being a democratic principle, it could make them feel important, heighten interest in politics and help reintegration into society.

California Joe
10-22-2008, 12:01 PM
I live in Vermont and I don't have a problem with it. Hell the entire populating of the state is around 500,000 people, if that. I seriously doubt that the votes of 250 inmates give or take is going to make a huge difference...

Jim Douglas is a good Governor.

Dragonscript
10-22-2008, 12:06 PM
I think everybody should be allowed to vote in the US, regardless of nationality, age, criminal past or sanity. Whatever the US does affects everyone in the world so everybody should have a voice in what it does. Also, why limit a person to one vote? A person should vote for whoever they want, as often as they want so those who are most passionate can have their views finally heard.

Except religious nuts, we need to keep church and state separate and their religious views would only infect the state with bad ideas.

/sarcasm


The lose of your right to vote is part of the debt you pay society for the crimes you commit. I do think we need reform when it comes to the way we treat crime and criminals, but for this i have little sympathy for them.

California Joe
10-22-2008, 12:12 PM
I don't really care one way or the other, but if it helps them in any way to take some sort of responsibility for ownership in the community then it's a good thing.

It's not like it's a big damn penalty anyway, Christ, over half of the people in this country that are eligible to vote, don't. They can't be bothered.

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 12:14 PM
I don't believe felons should have the right to vote. They lost that right and should have to earn it back.

XShipRider
10-22-2008, 12:47 PM
How would they "earn it back?" As it is right now most (all?) felons lose voting rights for life.

In my opinion, once they have served their time, including any associated parole without further incident, the debt to society is officially paid-in-full, earning back their voting right. One important caveat, this would apply only to non-violent offenders. Violent offender felons, including direct threats to commit bodily harm of any degree in the commision of said felony, would remain ineligible for life.

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 12:52 PM
How would they "earn it back?" As it is right now most (all?) felons lose voting rights for life.

In my opinion, once they have served their time, including any associated parole without further incident, the debt to society is officially paid-in-full, earning back their voting right. One important caveat, this would apply only to non-violent offenders. Violent offender felons, including direct threats to commit bodily harm of any degree in the commision of said felony, would remain ineligible for life.

Just answered your own question buddy ;-)

XShipRider
10-22-2008, 01:16 PM
Just answered your own question buddy ;-)

You didn't say specifics, so I threw in my $.14 (inflation adjusted two cents from birth).

LiddleTowers
10-22-2008, 02:55 PM
Just answered your own question buddy ;-)
In the rest of the U.S. convicted felons are never able to vote. So you believe that they should be able to vote after they have paid their dues in prison? Understandable, but don't you think those serving time should be given the option as well? After all they will be coming back out into society once their term is up. I think it would be a good idea for them to be able to have taken part in the democratic process which makes your society the one it is. Not an exclusionary society that some people would prefer. That's the breeding grounds for crime right there. Exclusion.
By allowing these folks to vote, hopefully it can make them feel more a part of the community and less of an outsider. It will ease their transfer back into the real world.

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 02:59 PM
So you believe that they should be able to vote after they have paid their dues in prison? Understandable, but don't you think those serving time should be given the option as well?

No I don't. They have hurt their communities which is why they are there in the first place. Rights once taken away need to be earned, not given away, otherwise it just doesn't mean as much.

LiddleTowers
10-22-2008, 03:50 PM
No I don't. They have hurt their communities which is why they are there in the first place. Rights once taken away need to be earned, not given away, otherwise it just doesn't mean as much.
What about those in prison learning a trade or skill. Or earning their GED. Do you not believe that those people are making a positive move towards bettering themselves, and should possibly be given the right to vote?

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 04:06 PM
What about those in prison learning a trade or skill. Or earning their GED. Do you not believe that those people are making a positive move towards bettering themselves, and should possibly be given the right to vote?

Doing any of those things while commendable doesn't contribute to ones civic responsibility.

In my personal opinion this is bottom feeding for votes.

LiddleTowers
10-22-2008, 04:33 PM
Doing any of those things while commendable doesn't contribute to ones civic responsibility.

In my personal opinion this is bottom feeding for votes.
I think bettering oneself in order to become a more productive member of society does contribute to civic responsibility. What about those kids out there who do nothing their entire lives but live off of their parents inheritance? They're still allowed to vote, and they do nothing to contribute to civic responsibility. I think there should be voting for inmates, but only if they are involved in some form of educational reform.

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 04:37 PM
I think bettering oneself in order to become a more productive member of society does contribute to civic responsibility. What about those kids out there who do nothing their entire lives but live off of their parents inheritance? They're still allowed to vote, and they do nothing to contribute to civic responsibility. I think there should be voting for inmates, but only if they are involved in some form of educational reform.

Those people have done nothing to lose their rights in the first place. How about this as a compromise. Let the inmates vote and let them believe they are contributing and we just burn their votes and don't count them. Nobody will be the wiser and I'll be satisfied. p-)

LiddleTowers
10-22-2008, 04:38 PM
Those people have done nothing to lose their rights in the first place. How about this as a compromise. Let the inmates vote and let them believe they are contributing and we just burn their votes and don't count them. Nobody will be the wiser and I'll be satisfied. p-)
That sounds an awful lot like the goings on in a dictatorship.

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 04:45 PM
That sounds an awful lot like the goings on in a dictatorship.

Since when are prisons democracy's? Hillary Clinton started talking about this years ago and I feel she was simply bottom feeding for votes, I still do. Think prisoners are going to vote Republican? rofl

Dragonscript
10-22-2008, 05:00 PM
That sounds an awful lot like the goings on in a dictatorship.


Really? So what do you think about the guys who invented the US system back in the day wanting only white male land owners to vote? Suffrage has evolved since the US first started.

California Joe
10-22-2008, 05:30 PM
Like I said before it really doesn't concern me one way or the other and I could see the cause for concern if they started registering all inmates in states with really large prison populations, but from that article it looks like Vermont is just being Vermont, sticking with the 1793 Constitution, if it aint broke don't fix it.

oswald
10-22-2008, 05:34 PM
Since when are prisons democracy's? Hillary Clinton started talking about this years ago and I feel she was simply bottom feeding for votes, I still do. Think prisoners are going to vote Republican? roflYou think all prisoners are Democrats?

Vermont: Live Free or Die Hard!

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 05:39 PM
You think all prisoners are Democrats?

No though I do think they would tend to tilt in that direction.

SOG
10-22-2008, 05:50 PM
Since when are prisons democracy's?

Exactly. It's fine for a po-dunk state but the minute you open a state like California to a similar practice, that is potentially tens of thousands of votes for local, state and body. Also some states harbor crap loads of prisons just for economic stability. (Colorado?) They would suddenly spring up as swing states.

Technically speaking the inmates could vote simply to spite the people that put them there or who they support. Can you imagine an inmate voting against a local sherrif who's department arrested him or voting for someone else because the police support them? Talk about counter productively canceling the votes of people who WORK FOR A LIVING specifically in law enforcement.

Plus do we really need any more special interest groups who have a very narrow view of who to vote on and why? If opened up this would create yet another.

Laworkerbee
10-22-2008, 06:24 PM
Not only that but prisons have shot callers, there is no way to guarantee votes were not purchased or cast out of fear.

Lusitania
10-22-2008, 07:30 PM
I think letting prisoners vote is an absurd idea; call me "old school," but I still believe in the basic principle that if you do the crime, you do the time. In that meaning, if you commit a crime, you are to be punished for that crime, which includes being locked up as well as giving up many rights that you hold dear. I believe rehabilitation to be a very integral component of the prison system, but I view voting as a valuable component and right within civic life, and as far as I am concerned, the inmates lost that right as soon as they harmed society adversely (by breaking its laws) and entered prison; the only way that right can be re earned is by serving the time (ringing in on the sentiments shared by Laworkerbee). I do believe that after you have served your time, then you should be able to vote, but voting while in prison sounds ridiculous to me.

LineDoggie
10-22-2008, 09:18 PM
I say let them Vote:

A- Bend over in the Shower

B- Bend over in the Cell

and to make it a real 3rd Party system:

C- Shiv him in the chow line

LiddleTowers
10-22-2008, 09:20 PM
Not only that but prisons have shot callers, there is no way to guarantee votes were not purchased or cast out of fear.
Votes not cast out of fear eh?
Kind of like vote buying through fear mongering?
I'm not saying it wouldn't happen. But that happens much more outside of prison.

LineDoggie
10-22-2008, 10:09 PM
Votes not cast out of fear eh?
Kind of like vote buying through fear mongering?
I'm not saying it wouldn't happen. But that happens much more outside of prison.

Yep, Fearmongering, Like as in "Mcsame", and "Bush's third Term" fearmongering..........

Nah, no one would do that would they :roll:

Hot Lips
10-24-2008, 08:59 PM
/sarcasm

I'm so glad I caught this part of the post. :)


I don't believe felons should have the right to vote. They lost that right and should have to earn it back.

Amen.


Not an exclusionary society that some people would prefer. That's the breeding grounds for crime right there. Exclusion.

They were included until they went against their community (country) and f'd things up for themselves. They are responsible for their situation. The loss their freedom and voice in community decisions should drive home just how much they have going for them in this country and inspire them to follow the law upon release.

Ordie
10-24-2008, 10:43 PM
If they have completed thier sentences, there should be no reason to deny thier right to vote or be elected.

Hot Lips
10-24-2008, 10:45 PM
Already been covered under "how do they (citizens) earn back their right".

loganinkosovo
10-25-2008, 01:35 AM
I think everybody should be allowed to vote in the US, regardless of nationality, age, criminal past or sanity. Whatever the US does affects everyone in the world so everybody should have a voice in what it does. Also, why limit a person to one vote? A person should vote for whoever they want, as often as they want so those who are most passionate can have their views finally heard.

Except religious nuts, we need to keep church and state separate and their religious views would only infect the state with bad ideas.





Then they would call us...................."Europe".

loganinkosovo
10-25-2008, 01:42 AM
Those people have done nothing to lose their rights in the first place. How about this as a compromise. Let the inmates vote and let them believe they are contributing and we just burn their votes and don't count them. Nobody will be the wiser and I'll be satisfied. p-)

Why not? The Dems do that with the Military Vote every election!

http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=59487&d=1224743667


Don't want to lose your right to vote? Don't do the crime, Dumbass!

Calanen
10-25-2008, 02:59 AM
I think all inmates should be allowed to vote. In addition to being a democratic principle, it could make them feel important, heighten interest in politics and help reintegration into society.

I dont care too much, but if its easier to lock em down then spend a motza letting them vote, I say, dont let em vote.