Currently, voting rights stand as follows:
No disenfranchisement (prisoners can vote): ME, VT
Restoring of voting rights upon release from prison: DC, HI, IL, IN, MA, MI, MT, NH, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, UT
Restoring of voting rights upon completion of prison term and parole (probationers can vote): CA, CO, CT, NY, SD,
Restoring of voting rights upon full completion of sentence: AK, AR, DE, GA, ID, IA, MD, MN, MO, NJ, NM, NC, OK, SC, TX, WA, WV, WI, WY
Restoration for most offenses (disenfranchisement for the rest) upon full sentence completion: AL, FL, MS, TN
Waiting periods: DE, NE, WY
2nd Felony disenfranchisement: AZ
Restoration for 1st-time non-violent: NV
Lifetime disenfranchisement: KY, VA
Many ex-felons also aren't informed well about their regaining the franchise, and incorrectly believe they're disenfranchised for life when they aren't.
Florida used to disenfranchise felons for life (this, along with Elian Gonzales, Katherine Harris, Ralph Nader, Palm Beach Jews for Buchanan, some guy named Chad and Al Gore himself, is one of the many reasons why Al Gore lost Florida and we got stuck with Bush) [at the time, only 10% of registered voters in FL were black, despite the state being 15% black). However, Republican Governor Charlie Crist modified the rules some
On April 5, Florida's Republican Governor Charlie Crist and the state clemency board (composed of the governor and the elected three cabinet members, currently two Republicans and one Democrat) adopted a new policy aimed at reforming Florida's antiquated and discriminatory felon disfranchisement procedures. The board revised the Rules of Executive Clemency that govern their decisions as to who gets their civil right restored in Florida Now, certain people with felony convictions will be restored to the rolls without an application or hearing by the clemency board while others remain subject to these procedures. Those who will be restored are people convicted of several non-violent felony offenses who have fully completed their sentences, paid any restitution owed, have no charges pending against them, and are not habitual violent offenders, violent career criminals or sexual predators. And they must wait until they receive a certificate from the board before they may vote again.
Even this wasn't close to acceptable in today's world. And Tim Kaine's pledge is even less encompassing:
Under Virginia's constitution, people convicted of a felony automatically lose their right to vote for life, which has resulted in an estimated 300,000 residents being disenfranchised, even though they are not in prison.
But a Virginia governor can restore a felon's voting rights. Under a process set up by former governor Mark R. Warner (D) , felons convicted of nonviolent crimes can apply to have their voting rights restored if they have a clean record for three years after their sentence has been completed. People convicted of violent felonies, which in Virginia includes selling drugs, have to wait five years.
Earlier this year, Kaine (D) promised that his administration would expedite a review of applications from nonviolent felons who submit their papers by Aug. 1.
That's it; a mere "expedited review."
Of course, Republicans are angry.
"I don' t know a lot of young Republicans who end up being felons," said Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). "Clearly the groups that are soliciting these felons to get their rights restored are predisposed to be in support of Obama, and I am sure this registration effort is designed to help their candidate."
While these new voters will almost certainly help Obama, it's not so much because they're felons as because they are disproportionately African-American, and African-Americans vote 90% Democratic in all races, because Democrats better represent their interests and Republicans still haven't given up racism.
This is especially true in Virginia; there's George "Macaca" Allen, and Virgil Goode's demonizing as "foreign" of a black man born in Detroit who's ancestors have been here since 1742. And let's not forget Del. Gilbert (see above).