Felon’s Voting – The New Suffrage Movement
The push to allow felons to vote before the restoration of civil rights continues. An article in February, 2018 by the New York Times compares the rights of felons to vote to the women’s suffrage movement and use the 14th Amendment’s promise that no state “shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” as justification. New York governor, Andrew Cuomo who is concerned about his upcoming bid for reelection, restored the voting rights of 35,000 felons still on parole via executive order . The push to allow felons to vote prior to serving their complete sentence will impact elections for decades, turning states from red to blue.
In this article, I will systematically debunk the narrative used by the left to allow felons to cast a ballot before their civil rights are restored. I will go through the steps used by the Minnesota Voters Alliance (MVA) to defeat the felons voting initiative in Minnesota and provide activists with counter arguments they can use to defeat this change in election law in other states throughout the country.
Felon Voting in Minnesota: 10,000 Lies
Since 2014, Democrats and liberal activists in Minnesota, joining forces with nationally funded lobbyists, set a goal to push through a broad agenda of corrupt election law changes, with a centerpiece of allowing non-incarcerated felons to vote. The cabal created a false narrative, served it up to unthinking Republicans, solicited self-interested business groups and county attorneys, and conducted private pitches to editorial boards, but generally stay out of public view.
As Phyllis Schaffly has pointed out, there is a longstanding national effort by Democrats and some libertarian organizations to elect liberal candidates by enabling felons and non-citizens to cast ballots, either legally or otherwise. The basis for the left’s commitment to this scheme is the well-known fact that felons vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, about 5 to 1 over Republicans, according to an authoritative study in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The estimated 47,000 felons who would be allowed to vote while still on probation are particularly salivating to Democrats in Minnesota, where Al Franken won election to the U.S. Senate in 2008 by a margin of 312 votes.
These are the ruinous provision sought in Minnesota in 2015:
- Felons permitted to vote upon release from incarceration, before completing any parole or probation. If a convicted felon is not sentenced to jail time, then they retain the right to vote, uninterrupted.
- Driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. The card would be marked so it couldn’t be used for voting, a phony provision since Minnesota does not require an ID to vote. All data on applicants would be hidden from public access.
- Automatic voter registration of every eligible applicant for a driver’s license.
- Voter registration for 16-year-olds.
- Redistricting due to a redefinition of residence for inmates, counting them for census purposes at their last known address or somewhere other than the location of the correctional facility.
- Elimination of public access to voting histories of ineligible persons listed in the statewide voter registration system database.
- Expansion of “election day” to a prior 13-day period, greatly expanding the 500,000 persons (in presidential election years) who register and vote on election day without checking eligibility.
The false narrative is based on classic liberal methodology: create a class of victims, adopt the stance that you are righteous, and demean those who argue the merits against you. The new class of victims in their argument are felons who “live in the community and pay taxes” and are being denied their rightful participation in society and who, studies show, are less likely to re offend if able to vote. They deserve a “second chance.”
For proponents, the story-line is all about the “rights” of felons, and nothing else. Their marketing cast every felon as a wrongfully convicted jaywalker whose whole life, upon release from 30 years of confinement, revolves around teaching citizenship to his granddaughter by taking her to the polling place on election days.
And, of course, there was the bogus claim that felons vote equally for Republicans and Democrats.
Here is the straight talk that proponents and their dupes must be confronted with:
- Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution says felons may not vote “unless restored to civil rights.” Persons on probation do not have their full civil rights restored since they are restricted as to whom they may associate with, where they may travel, and are under government supervision.
- The purpose of criminal sentences is to protect citizens and elections from those who have not shown they are trustworthy or willing to comply with the law. The judgments of courts in assigning necessary probation should be respected and supported, not undermined by a grant of partial “pardon.”
- Release from prison does not make a criminal law-abiding. In fact, a study has shown that Minnesota leads the nation in recidivism with 60% returning to prison within three years of release.
- Felons in Minnesota already get a “second chance” to vote—after they complete their probation, unlike in Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia where they are prohibited from voting for life.
- Their assertion that a Florida “study” indicates felons who are allowed to vote do not re offend as often as other felons has been shown to be bogus.
- Every felon has harmed real victims. The proposed legislation applies across the board to murderers, rapists, child molesters, Bernie Madoffs’ and American terrorists. Get out of prison on Monday for having threatened a judge, and gather your fellow ex-inmates to vote against him the next day. On probation for assaulting the mayor, vote against her. Convicted of massive voter fraud with no assigned jail time, welcome to the polling place.
- Felons vote overwhelmingly
- This is a national, coordinated, Democrat campaign to win close elections led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and others.
Proponents created The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition, an affiliate of the national effort, with 50 partners including Catholic Charities, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota, Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Minnesota State Public Defender, Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, and YWCA St. Paul, along with dozens of social justice and left-wing activist groups.
After a public debate was stirred and the information that felons are already given a “second chance,” after they have earned it, proponents began emphasizing another radical allied group, Restore the Vote; comprised of many of the usual suspects, such as the ACLU, SEIU, League of Women Voters, and NAACP.
Restore the Vote also brought on-board well-funded special interest groups like the Association of Minnesota Counties and the Minnesota County Attorneys Association whose interests were mainly to reduce their burden in investigating claims of voting fraud. The claim to “bipartisanship” was built from a trio of inconsequential groups with “Republican” or “Liberty” in their names, Blue Republican Minnesota, Liberty Minnesota, and the Republican Liberty Caucus Minnesota.
They spent months pulling these names together, creating logos and flyers, building a website, spreading the word around Twitter and Facebook, and holding events like the January 29th “Second Chance Day on the Hill 2015.”
The singular aim of all this effort was to provide cover and comfort to a small number of Republican state legislators, showing them that there was safety in voting outside the mainstream of their caucus.
Proponents and lobbyists drafted the bills in the Democrat-controlled Senate which held hearings with no opposition (since it was low profile, who knew?) and passed the entire smorgasbord in the elections committee.
They also flooded the zone with provisions sprinkled throughout other committees like transportation, judiciary/public safety, finance, and tried to insert driver’s licenses for illegals into the agriculture bill.
The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Midwest Food Processors Association, Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, the Minnesota Lodging Association, and the Minnesota Restaurant Association lobbied for passage of legislation permitting illegal immigrants to have driver’s licenses.
Several demonstrations were held on the steps of the Capitol. Flyers were hand-delivered to legislators claiming we were telling “lies.”
Democrat leaders pressed for their election agenda right up to adjournment at midnight on May 18, making a threat to withhold agreement on other issues and offering amendments with hidden agendas.
Republican support in the House began to weaken following a Twin Cities morning talk radio debate between the MVA’s Andy Cilek and a paid lobbyist from Minnesota Second Chance. After an MVA OpEd in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, three of the nine Republican House co-authors of a related election bill in the House withdrew their names. Subsequent MVA OpEds in Duluth and St. Cloud brought the issue to light equipping citizens with the knowledge for expressing concern to their legislators. Cilek also conducted several call-in radio interviews in Duluth and St. Cloud.
The Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee in the MN House held strong and refused to hold hearings on bills containing harmful election changes.
Republicans in both chambers came to see that their constituencies were virulently opposed to all of the partisan Democrat proposals which would lead to a takeover of Minnesota government for the foreseeable future.
In the end, every Republican senator voted against the Senate elections bill which Democrats passed on their own. House Republican leadership and members united, refusing to accept any portion of the Democrat Senate’s elections policy omnibus bill.
Republican House and Senate Judicial/Public Safety conferees refused to accept the felons voting provision in the Judicial/Public Safety omnibus bill.
Only a few years ago, disastrous election law changes were on a subliminal glide path to enactment in the Minnesota legislature. As a result, however, of continuous phone calls and emails from concerned constituents to Republican legislators generated by MVA OpEds, appearances on radio talk shows across the state, and emails to members, the sabotage of Minnesota elections by national liberal organizations failed in the 2015 legislative session because Republican legislators were armed with the truth.