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The Election is Over: Your Vote was Key

December 8, 2010

Post by Maureen Fischer,  MaureenInk Communications,  Twitter: @ MaureenFischer,  www.MaureenInk.com

Note:  Social Media Consultant Maureen Fischer contributed hundreds of hours of her time to Amicus in launching this blog and integrating it with our other social media.  Thanks Maureen! You’ve made “Inside Change” something we can all be proud of. You’re always an Amicus in our eyes!

This afternoon, Governor-Elect Dayton made his first public comments as winner of the race against Tom Emmer.  Despite the cost and delay of the contested election, the situation points out the importance of every single vote. The same was true, only more so, during the recount for the U.S. Senate race won by a hair by Al Franken.

Voting in this state matters. Whether you burn with conviction about a candidate or just want to be a good citizen, it can also be a great satisfaction. Yet nationally, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are banned from voting, many of them ex-offenders.

The legal ability of people with felony convictions to vote varies from state to state.  ProCon.org explains the laws in each state in detail. The highlights:

  • Twelve states fall into the harshest category–banning felons from voting ever, even after release from prison, parole and probation
  • Eighteen more states take a less severe stance; Minnesota is among them. Here, felons vote only upon completion of all supervised release, which includes parole, probation and the paying of all fines.
  • Thirteen states plus Washington DC are more lenient: allowing felons to vote upon release from prison.
  • Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow them to vote from prison.

The following stats from The Second Chance Coalition add more insight to the voting laws here in Minnesota:

Over 60,000 Minnesotans live in the community with felony convictions; since 1974, the number of community members disenfranchised has increased 500%

Minnesota has the fourth highest number of individuals per capita who are on probation or parole

Current policy in Minnesota disenfranchises 1 in 5 African American men of voting age

We all know voting is symbolic of our freedom as a citizen of a democratic society: it  makes us feel valued and empowered. Research has proven that parolees and probationers who exercise their right to vote are less likely to end up back in prison.

Please let us know your thoughts on the issue. Are Minnesota’s voting laws fair? Or should they be changed to allow more ex-offenders to vote sooner?

For more information on the issue, visit The Second Chance Coalition website.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Robyn permalink
    December 9, 2010 10:18 am

    The disenfranchisement of 1 in 5 African American men is abysmally disconcerting–clearly the effects of disproportionate minority contact in this state are lasting and far reaching. Of course when laws are broken, there must be consequences but the effects of our voting laws seem to have brought us back to pre-reconstruction amendment times.

  2. December 14, 2010 11:01 am

    Yes, it’s very disconcerting. So many young black men who would be going to the polls, many for the first time in their lives, are banned from doing it. They have no voice even though they are full fledged citizens.

  3. May 16, 2011 5:34 am

    Hello, just found this web site from digg. This isn’t not an article I would normally read, but I liked your perspective on it. Thank you for making an article worth reading!

    • May 17, 2011 11:14 am

      Thank you Matsue for visiting. We are glad that we are able to reach an audience such as you because we are trying to bring an awareness of issues affecting rather large portion of our community.

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