Panel nixes expanding felon voting rights

Graphic: Sarah Warrender | The Valdosta Daily Times

2020欧冠名单ATLANTA — Despite being voted down by a bi-partisan study committee, Democratic lawmakers continue to push the expansion of voting rights for some felons.

2020欧冠名单Prior to the legislative session, a Senate study committee heard arguments upon completion of their sentences.

2020欧冠名单But after several meetings and to the shock of advocates who felt optimistic about the change, expanding voting rights in a party-line split.

2020欧冠名单Sen. Harold Jones, D-Augusta, told CNHI that the committee was limited to two options: keeping laws the way they are or giving every felon the right to vote after they serve their sentence.

His  gives a third option — one that follows recommendations of criminal justice advocates — and creates a list of excluded felony offenses.

“I think it is a good option. I think it works and this is a good first step,” Jones said. “It's something we ought to go ahead and pass, and it is very conservative.”

2020欧冠名单The biggest challenge the committee faced was choosing which criminal offenders could see expansions of their voting rights and which would be exempt. Current law excludes felony offenders from voting because they committed crimes of “moral turpitude” — a term used to define the severity of crimes.

2020欧冠名单In the bill filed by Jones, more than 70 felony convictions would result in the offenders being excluded from being given the right to cast a ballot as soon as their time is served.

Those crimes include murder and manslaughter; rape and other violent sex crimes; crimes against children, the elderly and the disabled; human and drug trafficking crimes; and extreme cases of theft and dogfighting among other various violent offenses.

But the bill also includes things like computer hacking, mortgage and foreclosure fraud and vandalism of a place of worship.

Jones said he sought to include “white collar” crimes and crimes in which victims are involved.

“Those crimes are just as detrimental, you have victims...” he told CNHI. “Those have long term impact too, and so if we're going to differentiate, let's include all crimes that have victims involved have long term impact.”

2020欧冠名单Sen. Randy Robertson, chairman of the study committee, cast the final deciding vote against recommending changes.

2020欧冠名单“My hope is to have a conversation with the presiding Senate pro-tem to make this a priority of the Senate and also during the voters right caucus that takes place during the session,” said Sen. Randy Robertson, chairman of the study committee, during the final meeting. “That would give us an opportunity not only to have a public discussion but also a bipartisan discussion.”

2020欧冠名单Jones said ending some felon disenfranchisement brings formerly incarcerated individuals back into the folds of society.

2020欧冠名单A  showed voting can reduce the likelihood of recidivism by half.

2020欧冠名单“A person who votes is a person who's engaged in the community,” he said. They just are."