Daniel Ruth: Florida is best of the worst in voting rights

Published Dec. 28, 2016

Leave it to those namby-pamby, crybaby liberals at the Brennan Center for Justice to get all uppity about balderdash like justice and fairness and rights. Rights? Oh please. Pffffft! I say.

Recently, the obviously Kremlin-inspired Brennan Center issued a scathing report taking the state of Florida to task for its rigorous instance on denying voting rights to ex-felons. Oh the commie rabble-rousing of it all.

The pointy-headed socialists estimated some 1.6 million Floridians have been denied the right to vote based on their felony records. That means roughly 10 percent of the state's voting-age population has been systematically disenfranchised by Tallahassee. And about a third of the 1.6 million Floridians turned away from the voting booth are African-American residents.

Who could possibly take all this tsk-tsking from a bunch of smarty-pants types remotely seriously? After all, making matters even more intellectually suspect, the Brennan Center for Justice is associated with the New York University School of Law. You can't get much more lefty-snooty than that!

Perhaps the Brennan-ites thought they were shaming the Tallahassee klavern of overseers for its antebellum approach to elections when it noted: "Florida has one of the most punishing and restrictive criminal disenfranchisement laws … and denies the right to vote more than any other state."

Ahem, isn't that sort of the whole idea?

What they don't quite grasp is that cooking the books to prevent people from voting in Florida is hardly a black spot of duplicity for those dominating the Florida Legislature and the Governor's Mansion. It's a point of pride.

The whiners over at the Brennan Center deluded themselves into thinking that simply because other states permit the restoration of voting rights after felons have paid their debt to society, Florida, too, should allow felons to participate in the political life of their communities.

That is so naively reasonable.

But Florida isn't about reason or common sense or, heaven forbid, fairness.

Florida legislators, along with Gov. Rick Scott, aren't about serving the people or expanding access to the voting booth. They are all about protecting their hold on power — even if that means telling 1.6 million people they can take their ballot and … well you get the idea.

We tried this once before. During his one term as governor, Charlie Crist led the way for 24,537 former felons to be approved to vote. And what did Crist have to show for all his goodwill? For that and other sins, he was vilified by his own Republican Party and eventually forced to become a Democrat.

Under the Scott sect, fewer than 500 felons a year have been granted voter registration cards.

And if you think Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature are going to allow themselves to be cowed into a spirit of egalitarianism merely because a cabal of New York do-gooders has held the state up as a bastion of narrow-minded voter suppression, you probably also believe the governor is suddenly going to become a Greenpeace climate change disciple.

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What the Brennanistas obviously don't quite grasp is the very real concern on the part of Tallahassee: If ex-felons were permitted to vote, what would happen? They would register to vote, that's what.

And what party would many of them likely align themselves with? Democrats, that's who.

Worse yet, with blacks making up some 500,000 potential new voters joining the rolls, what party are they likely to affiliate with? And the answer to that is, duh!

You start allowing former felons to vote, what then? There's a very good chance they will actually vote. And if they vote, it is possible they may not vote for Republicans. And before you know it, the balance of power could well shift in Tallahassee merely because some ex-cons were permitted to cast a ballot. Imagine losing your cushy seat in the Florida Legislature because some former car thief thought you were a clueless, out-of-touch, condescending dolt. No good would come of this.

When Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter Kristen Clark inquired what Scott's reaction was to being characterized as the Grinch who stole elections by the Brennan Center, the governor sent out some flunky to insist the governor "supports the current clemency process." Of course he does, especially if banning 1.6 million people from potentially voting against him will keep his political ambitions for higher office in play.

There is an option for Florida's 1.6 million felons with election cooties to get a chance to vote.

They can always move to New York.