Democracy Blog.

A blog about democracy.

Felon Voting Rights

REUTERS/ Jay Paul

REUTERS/ Jay Paul

It is great news that VA Gov. Ralph Northam suddenly decided to restore the right to vote to felons. I am sure his recent scandal of wearing blackface and putting a Klan photo in his med school yearbook has nothing to do with this whatsoever, why am I even bringing this unrelated story up? I’m sure Gov. Northam wanted to increase democratic participation and was not looking for a quick fix with those that are disproportionately affected by banning convicted felons to vote, African-Americans. 

Similarly when NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided to abruptly restore voting rights to convicts last year, it wasn’t because he was facing a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon. Why would you think that, just because it was announced right after she launched her campaign? 

The opportunity to play political distraction shouldn’t be the force behind restoring felon voting rights. Preventing felons from voting is another explicit way to disenfranchise voters in a bid to control which people get to vote—undercutting the very point of democracy. 

If it’s up to the states’ governors, then all governors need to restore voting rights and end the disenfranchisement now. Don’t wait to do something good for when you already look bad.