December 30, 2003

More on the Voting Rights Issue

In the comment section below, Kevin of CalPundit notes that there were voters in the 2000 race in Florida who were wrongly denied the right to vote due to mis-identification as felons. Kevin cites the figure of 90,000.

I did some checking and found the following:

According to the 12/21/03 edition of the St. Petersburg Times, here are the numbers:

But less than a year before Floridians vote again for president, the election system remains bedeviled by inconsistencies, red tape and potential obstacles to prospective voters:

  • The state put together a list of 12,000 people - 41 percent of whom are African-American - who may have been misidentified as felons and denied the right to vote in 2000. But after completing the list, elections officials acknowledge it is inexact and still may include felons who should not be allowed to vote in 2004.

  • The counties have been told to deal with inconsistencies in the list as best they can. Some are returning to the rolls any voters who the county can't prove are felons. But others are making voters prove they aren't felons in order to vote next year.

  • Despite a legal settlement to make it easier for felons to regain their voting rights, the backlog of former prisoners who have applied to restore their rights has grown to nearly 39,000. That's a six-fold increase since 2001, yet the state earlier this year cut the number of Parole Commission staffers who handle applications.
  • While 12,000 isn't 90,000, it is still too many, and it is disturbing that that list may still have errors. In the age of computer databases, one would think it would be possible to determine who is a felon and who isn't. Further, I am of the opinion that once one's time is served that I do not see the rationale for denying the right to vote, which would solve this problem.

    I would also note that of the 12,000, less than half were African-American (41%). As such this is really an issue of ex-felons' voting rights, not African-American voting rights.

    I do not deny that this is a problem, but still question Clark's approach, assuming that this is even what he is talking about.

    Update: This post is part of today's BELTWAY TRAFFIC JAM.

    Posted by Steven Taylor at December 30, 2003 10:04 AM | TrackBack

    That's the real problem, isn't it? As a Democrat I can state that I often have problems figuring out what Clark is saying. He's almost as bad as Bush when it comes to communicating. I'm still not sure if the guy was for or against the war.

    I have no doubt that errors, intentional and negligent occur in Republican and Democratic strongholds. Unfortunately, at the local level, too many people have too much to lose by way of patronage jobs.

    Florida proved that some current systems are simple not capable of handling a close election. That does not look like it has been seriously addressed by anyone.

    Posted by: Anthony at December 30, 2003 11:00 AM

    I am not sure that any system could adequately handle (by that I mean, to the satisfaction of all) an election that was as close as was 2000, especially in Florida. Given the large numbers in involved, errors are impossible to avoid.

    Posted by: Steven at December 30, 2003 11:04 AM

    I agree. Errors will not be avoided. The best we can do is minimize them and realize that not everything will be perfect. It kind of makes you wonder about the elections in the 1800's or early 1900's.

    Posted by: Anthony at December 30, 2003 11:16 AM

    Given the large numbers in involved, errors are impossible to avoid.

    And to be frank, the lack of responsibility on the part of many voters.

    If you are not responsible enough to accomplish the stunningly minor tasks required of a voter then maybe you should not be voting anyway.

    If someone is not on the voter roles because of red tape I submit it is as much the fault of the voter for not making sure he was enfranchised.

    It ain't that hard.

    Posted by: Paul at December 30, 2003 11:43 PM

    This is the same comment I made on the other post:

    As I recall, many voters thought they were registered but, as Kevin pointed out, found they were ineligible.

    Perhaps the most dramatic undercount in Florida’s election was the uncast ballots of countless eligible voters who were turned away at the polls or wrongfully purged from voter registration rolls.

    And this:

    Poorer counties, particularly those with large minority populations, were more likely to use voting systems with higher spoilage rates than more affluent counties with significant white populations. For example, in Gadsden County, the only county in the state with an African American majority, approximately one in eight voters was disenfranchised. In Leon County, on the other hand, which is home to the prosperous state capital and two state universities, fewer than two votes in 1,000 were not counted. In Florida, of the 100 precincts with the highest numbers of disqualified ballots, 83 of them are majority-black precincts.

    So it's not like this is something being cooked up by whacky liberals. There's still massive anger in the black community over voter disenfranchisement. Probably Clark is aware that the people he was talking to knew this already, and he expects the rest of you can do your own homework.

    All italicized quotes are taken from a publication from an organization called the US Commission on Civil Rights.

    I'll also add that the USCCR reports notes that minorities were something like (either eight to ten) times more likely to be disenfranchised than whites. Again -- read it.

    Posted by: Mikhel at December 31, 2003 12:18 PM

    Why is Gadsden County electing white Republicans to its Board of Elections?

    Posted by: John "Akatsukami" Braue at January 1, 2004 07:22 PM
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