In this issue
· National: Democracy Restoration Act - For and Against » GO
· Iowa: Arrested for Voting » GO
· North Carolina: Eligible, but Vote Didn't Count » GO
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March 30, 2010
Continuing to highlight the March 16 House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Democracy Restoration Act, coverage by Voice of America highlighted Marcus Martin and Andres Idaragga - two formerly incarcerated men who advocate for reenfranchisement. Martin, a Maryland resident, is not eligible for vote restoration until 2020.
"Whatever rights that a normal citizen should have, I believe I should have them as well since I've served my time and I'm back in society as a paying taxpayer and community activist," said Martin.
Idaragga's rights were restored in 2006 when the issue became a ballot referendum in Rhode Island. "Voting is particularly important because when we exclude people for voting, we're excluding them from the fundamental act of what it means to be a citizen," he said in an interview following his testimony before Congress earlier this month. Read Daily Kos for more on Idaragga.
Fox News' Glenn Beck commented on this week's New York Times editorial and the momentum behind the Democracy Restoration Act.
"Now, let me ask the New York Times: You are saying that we should restore - because you've paid your dues, you're going to restore the rights. All of them? Are you going to restore their right to the Second Amendment or is it only the voting rights?"
WorldNetDaily also featured an article highlighting an opposition point of view, which stated, "critics have also hinted that the law is politically convenient for Democrats." The Wall Street Journal featured a blog post on its Web site highlighting various media coverage and inviting comments on the issue.
For additional coverage, read the Huffington Post and the New American.
An Iowa resident was arrested this week for voting in the November 2008 election, according to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. Kevin Prosper Janeau, who received probation for forgery in 2007, was officially discharged in October 2009 - a year after having cast his vote. Iowa law states that residents charged with an "infamous crime" - felonies and aggravated misdemeanors - lose their right to vote, according to the Governor's Office. According to officials, if a person attempts to register to vote when they don't have those rights restored, the Auditor's Office sends a letter to the person. Nonetheless, a county elections official said it's a "common occurrence" for ineligible people to apply for voter registration.
A federal judge in North Carolina recently ruled in favor of the Pasquotank County Board of Elections in a lawsuit filed by a resident who claimed he had been led to believe his vote would be counted in the primary election.
Peter Burke Sr.'s right to vote was restored in 2005 following a conviction, but he failed to register to vote prior to the May 2008 primary, the Daily Advance reported. Burke sought $1 million in damages and verification that his vote would be counted in future elections.
"It is undisputed that plaintiff failed to comply with the statutory requirement to re-register and was thus precluded by law from voting in the May 2008 Primary," Chief U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan wrote. "In fact, plaintiff has not presented any evidence that defendant's conduct was due to discrimination based on his race."
The Sentencing Project is a national organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice, and alternatives to incarceration.