NADER, OR DISENFRAN-
well known is the fact that members of the lower classes, and especially blacks,
are often legally disenfranchised. This results from the workings of the prison
system and law. In nine states, if you commit a felony, you are banned from
voting for a lifetime. A recent study by criminologists Christopher Uggen and
Jeff Manza indicates that this removes democratic political rights from 4.2
million voters, a disproportionate number of them black. (The Uggen-Manza study
is summarized in Somini Sengupta, "Felony Costs Voting Rights for a
Lifetime in 9 States," NYT, Nov. 3, 2000.) About 7 percent of otherwise
eligible blacks are barred from voting in the United States because of felony
convictions. Interestingly, Florida is among the most important of the
disenfranchising states in excluding blacks, with 13.8 percent barred for felony
convictions. Maybe if the Clinton-Gore administration had fought hard against
this travesty it would have made a difference in the 2000 presidential election.
ally Israel not only allows prisoners and ex-felons to vote, it allows murderers
who kill politicians for political reasons to vote, thereby in a sense doubling
the murderer's voting power. Thus Yigal Amir, who murdered Prime Minister Rabin
in 1995, voted for Rabin's opponent Benjamin Netanyahu while in prison. Mrs.
Rabin pointed out the irony of this double vote for the murderer, but it was not
featured in the mainstream U.S. media.
is also of interest that in the United States a corporation that commits a
criminal act is not denied the right to form a political action committee to
push its political aims, nor are its officers prevented from voting although
they are responsible for its criminal behavior. Certainly one tactic that
progressives interested in electoral reform should pursue is to call for
abolition of disenfranchisement or its extension to all criminals-- either
abolish disenfranchisement of people in jail and ex-felons or extend it to
business firms, denying corporations found guilty of criminal acts any right to
form PACs and denying their top officers voting rights for their lifetimes in
the same manner as other criminals are treated.