Dr. John Lott has a new piece at Townhall on the push in Washington, DC to let felons vote while they are still serving their sentence in prison. The piece starts this way:
Washington, D.C.’s council seems posed to let felons vote while they are still serving their sentences in prison. Surely, that has the benefit of ensuring that these individuals turn out to vote. But one claim made to push the change, that felon disenfranchisement is racist, is absurd.
Many states have had that rule as long as they have been states, and places such as Vermont in 1793 or later in North and South Dakota can hardly be claimed to have adopted these rules because of concerns about black voters.
Democrats used to argue that once felons had served their time, they had paid their debt to society and should be able to vote. Now, after Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) earlier this year argued for felons to vote while they are in prison, even for those who have committed the most horrible crimes, other Democrats have picked up the cause.
Other than racism, there is a more straightforward explanation for this prohibition. We learn about murderers and rapists in terms of how they care about their fellow citizens in other ways. The Boston Marathon bomber killed three people and wounded 260 others. How will someone willing to take many lives and maimed or disfigured for life many others vote on issues from law enforcement to health care policy? How will they vote on issues that depend on compassion?
Why is it in the interests of women that rapists should have a say in deciding who will win elections? Sexual offenders aren’t going to support women’s safety and health issues or education the way that other citizens will. Criminals probably shouldn’t be deciding what the laws should be or how they should be enforced.
The rest of the piece is available here.