Tuesday, August 03, 2004

MUST READ - Re Florida Felon Purge List

We plan to speak quite a bit between now and November about the dangers of disenfranchisement in November, whether it be due to fallible electronic voting machines or the lengths to which a president's brother will go to deliver his state to him. We spoke to several voter integrity activists at the convention, whose concerns we will discuss in later posts. For now, Paul Krugman provides a must read primer on the outrageous Florida felon purge list controversy of 2000 and the situation as it stands now.

Florida law denies the vote to convicted felons. In 2000 the state hired a firm to purge supposed felons from the list of registered voters; these voters were turned away from the polls. After the election, determined by 537 votes, it became clear that thousands of people had been wrongly disenfranchised. Since those misidentified as felons were disproportionately Democratic-leaning African-Americans, these errors may have put George W. Bush in the White House.

This year, Florida again hired a private company - Accenture, which recently got a homeland security contract worth up to $10 billion - to prepare a felon list. Remembering 2000, journalists sought copies. State officials stonewalled, but a judge eventually ordered the list released.

The Miami Herald quickly discovered that 2,100 citizens who had been granted clemency, restoring their voting rights, were nonetheless on the banned-voter list. Then The Sarasota Herald-Tribune discovered that only 61 of more than 47,000 supposed felons were Hispanic. So the list would have wrongly disenfranchised many legitimate African-American voters, while wrongly enfranchising many Hispanic felons. It escaped nobody's attention that in Florida, Hispanic voters tend to support Republicans.

Angry? Disgusted? Good, now go do something about it.


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