Still More on Felons Voting

John Fund has a new piece on felons voting. Among John's other points:

Liberals normally avoid partisan arguments in expressing their support for voting by felons. Instead, they point to the disproportionate racial impact. Sometimes they overstate that impact, as Mara Liasson of National Public Radio did last week when she said that "I would expect if you did a study, you would find that probably the vast majority of [felons] are African-American." In truth, a little more than a third of disfranchised felons are black. . . .

The allegation that laws restricting felon voting are racially motivated is flawed. Harvard historian Alexander Keyssar, author of the classic book "The Right to Vote," points out that many states passed such laws before the Civil War. Later, the laws were passed in many Southern states by Reconstruction government run by Republicans who supported black voting rights. Mr. Keyssar says that "most laws that disenfranchised felons had complex and murky origins," often centering on the notion that "a voter ought to be a moral person." As one judge noted: "Felons are not disenfranchised based on any immutable characteristic, such as race, but on their conscious decision to commit an act for which they assume the risks of detection and punishment."

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