The New Bill That Hopes to Restore Felons' Voting Rights

In 11 states it's still illegal for some felons to vote. A new bill seeks to end this madness.

Regardless of who you're rooting for in the impending GOP caucuses, or in the general election next November, most Americans can agree that the process we use to choose our leaders is important. America's voting system is not ideal—why must we vote on a weekday, for instance?—but it's what we've got for now, and exercising your rights at the polls is one of the last truly patriotic acts in an era when "patriotism" seems like a nebulous term.

Unfortunately, despite voting's role as a cornerstone of our democracy, draconian laws in 11 American states currently ban some or all felons from participating in that civic duty. Four states—Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, and Iowa—maintain lifetime voting bans for felons, while seven others bar certain felons (in Arizona, for instance, you can vote if you have one felony conviction, but only one). A new bill from Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) hopes to change all that.

Called the Democracy Restoration Act, Cardin's bill would reinstate voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences. "If we truly want to break the cycle of recidivism, we need to reintegrate former prisoners back into society," Cardin said in a press release last week. "When prisoners are released, they are expected to obey the law, get a job, and pay taxes as they are rehabilitated and reintegrated into their community. With these responsibilities and obligations of citizenship should also come the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote."

Stripping away millions of Americans' voting rights is shabby policy on its face, of course, but this widespread disenfranchisement is exacerbated by the fact that it's being done through the criminal justice system, a notoriously broken and racist machine. As ThinkProgress notes, of the more than 2 million disenfranchised felons in America today, a full 70 percent are black, and the vast majority are male. In essence, felony voting bans have become a great way to keep young black men out of polling places, often by design. And according to website the Straight Dope, "[S]tates with tough anti-felon laws tend to be located in the South, and "a lot of these laws were beefed up around the turn of the century to include crimes thought to be more commonly committed by blacks."

Felon disenfranchisement once again forces the United States to face what criminal justice means. If our goal is to rehabilitate criminals and make them contributing and flourishing members of society, then alienating them by taking away their voting rights is outright wrong. But if our goal is to punish criminals—both in prison and out—forever, then we're doing a pretty good job.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Casey Serin

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News