Even when I kinda, sorta agree with the Seattle Times editorial board they manage to piss me off.
Felons should have their right to vote restored after serving their sentences. Time in prison, not money, should be what counts. But this decision should be decided by the state, and not a judge.
Yeah, I agree, in the sense that the responsible thing for the Legislature to do would be to fix our unfair and unmanageable felon re-enfranchisement laws by bringing WA in line with most other states, and restoring civil rights to felons upon their release from prison. But, in the real world we understand that the Legislature doesn’t have the balls to touch this issue with a ten foot pole… and the Times is as much to blame for their timidity as anybody else.
For months, during last year’s gubernatorial election contest, and for some time thereafter, the Times joined the rest of the local media in eagerly playing into GOP hype over illegal felon votes without providing any context as to the relative moral and pragmatic merits of disenfranchising 3.7 percent of WA voters, and a stunning 24 percent of black men. The result is that disappointed Dino Rossi supporters have vilified felon voters as the boogiemen of the 2004 election, and would perceive any attempt to re-enfranchise them as little more than a cynical Democratic ploy to gain an electoral advantage.
Ironically, during the contest trial itself there was no convincing demographic data presented to suggest that in Washington state, ex-felons as a whole leaned towards Democrats; indeed anecdotal information suggested the opposite. So the Democratic majorities in Olympia have absolutely nothing to gain politically by sticking their necks out for a reviled, powerless constituency like ex-felons. And they won’t.
(One can just see the latest round of Kevin Carnes postcards now: “Rep. X voted to give this rapist the right to vote!”)
That’s political reality, and I’m guessing the folk on the Times editorial board were smart enough to understand this when they decided to tepidly endorse re-enfranchising ex-felons at the same time they lauded AG Rob McKenna for squashing the one sure-fire path towards achieving this commendable policy objective.
By appealing this ruling, Attorney General Rob McKenna is properly defending the right of the people of Washington to make this decision, and not have it taken away by a judge. After McKenna wins his appeal, the Legislature should exercise its power and allow all released felons to vote.
What a load of crap. What don’t you just drop the pretense and endorse McKenna now for governor or senator or whatever office it is this calculating, ambitious, cynical, BIAW mole intends to run for next?
And for chrissakes will you stop it with your incessant, whining attacks on judges for (gasp)… interpreting the law?! The “right of the people” to selectively re-enfranchisement ex-felons based on their ability to pay wasn’t “taken away by a judge”… it was taken away by the Constitution! That’s the court’s job — to interpret the state and federal constitutions — and “the people” have absolutely no right to enact laws that violate these supreme documents without first amending them.
Don’t get me wrong… I welcome the Times endorsement of ex-felon voting rights… better late than never and all that. But now that they’ve come out against the obtainable means of achieving this policy goal, I fully expect them to put the time and effort into aggressively educating the public on this issue. (You know, the way the New York Times has.)
Otherwise, one might think this lone editorial little more than a transparent effort to put Democrats between a rock and hard place… a cynical attempt to brow-beat Democrats into supporting sensible legislation with which the Republicans can beat them senseless come election time.