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March 4, 2005 Friday

TRANSCRIPT: 030402cb.253


LENGTH: 1210 words

HEADLINE: New Bill Would Allow Felons to Vote

BYLINE: Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes

GUESTS: Chaka Fattah, Patrick McHenry


COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Alan Colmes.

Republicans are fuming about a plan sponsored by Democrats that would let ex-felons vote in federal elections. The bill is called the Count Every Vote Actand is supported by some heavy hitters like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer. Are Republicans just worried that they might lose?

Joining us now, Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah and North Carolina Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry. Good to have you both with us.


COLMES: Patrick, let me begin with you. Is the presumption here, that felons,once they pay their debt to society, actually get to vote. They're all Democrats? Is that what you're saying?

MCHENRY: That's not a presumption. It's actually a fact.

COLMES: Really?

MCHENRY: In the 2000 election, according to the "Miami Herald," there were 5,600 felons who voted. And actually, you can't check these felons vote, of course, in America, but let's check the party registration. Seventy percent, as John Fund noted in his book "Stealing Elections," 70 percent of those felons that voted in the 2000 election in Florida were Democrats.

COLMES: Well, it depends upon your location, I'm guessing. But Congressman Fattah, I find it a remarkable presumption on the part of Republicans that that means more Democrats win because they're all Democrats who commit crimes. Martha Stewart, shouldn't she vote once she pays her debt to society?

CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I want to know if you're an American serviceman and you've been convicted of maybe being a little too tough on an Iraqi prisoner, should you lose your right to vote so that these Iraqis can now vote?

Or are you -- I mean, are we for Iraqis who killed our troops voting over there? Aren't we for people here being able to have an opportunity to vote? I mean, who's got a right to take away somebody else's right to vote in our country?

COLMES: And by the way, Congressman McHenry, there's some other good parts ofthis bill. It makes election day a federal holiday, and it also provides using electronic machines. If you use one you get a paper receipt. So there are some other aspects to this. Of course, you're focusing on the one that you think favors Democrats.

MCHENRY: Alan...

COLMES: Go ahead.

MCHENRY: Alan, clearly you outline what John Kerry and Hillary Clinton want. And I'll tell you, I mean, it's a partisan political move. It's what a partisan hack would do, and that's what we have in Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. And this is what you're putting forward.

And look, you have -- you have a Philadelphia congressman talking about voter reform. I think we need to start with Philadelphia and make sure that we -- we actually get some election reform in Philadelphia. Actually, a recent election was thrown out by a federal judge because of corruption with the voting process in Philadelphia.

HANNITY: Congressman Fattah, as John Lott (ph) pointed out in his recent article that there is some academic work that has studied this. Jeff Mansa (ph) and Marcus Britain (ph) of Northwestern University. And Christopher Reagan of the University of Minnesota have studied the issue.

And what they found is that Bill Clinton pulled 86 percent of the felon vote in 1992 and a whopping 93 percent in 1996. So clearly the evidence shows it does favor the Democrats. So this is a political move to help in close races, isn't it, sir?

FATTAH: Well, Sean, really, it's just a distraction from the real problems of the country. The reality is Republicans control the Senate and the Congress. If they don't want this bill to pass, it won't pass.

HANNITY: It won't.

FATTAH: If it passes, Bush, if he doesn't want it, he doesn't have to sign it. But you know, you should look at Governor Bush's record in Florida and hisbrother, now president in Texas, allowing that he's granting pardons so felons were able to vote.

HANNITY: NO, no. I don't have a problem -- I think this should be dealt with on a state basis. You're missing my point.

FATTAH: Now, you insult the city of Philadelphia, but this is where our nation was founded. We ended up with a Constitution that says everybody has got a right to vote. Now, if you don't think that people should have a right to voteand you think you want to take away people's right to vote, go ahead.

HANNITY: Now -- now you're sounding...

MCHENRY: But Congressman, actually...

HANNITY: Now you're insinuating things that were never implied. But that's all right. I expect that from you, Congressman.

FATTAH: Where is it in the Constitution that you get a right to take away somebody's right to vote?

HANNITY: Congressman McHenry, let me ask you this...

MCHENRY: The 14th Amendment, Congressman -- the 14th Amendment guarantees thestates the right to determine election law. I think that that's a very...

HANNITY: That's absolutely right.

FATTAH: Most of our states -- almost all of our states say that people can vote.

MCHENRY: You know what? Congressman, if you want -- Congressman, if you want child rapists, if you want convicted felons, if you want murderers and those that conduct brutal assaults, if you want them voting in your city, certainly, do that.

HANNITY: Congressman McHenry, I want to ask you this question. This is important. We had a close race for governor in the state of Washington, Congressman.

MCHENRY: That's true.

HANNITY: Only 129 votes separated the Republican and the Democrat. And now wehave found Republicans have released the names of 1,135 felons who legally cast ballots in that state. I want to know why people like Congressman Fattah and theDemocrats are not calling for a new election there.

MCHENRY: You know why? Sheer partisanship.


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Mother Jones article (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

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Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

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