6 Million Americans Were Barred From Voting This Election

6 Million Americans Were Barred From Voting This Election

Because they're prisoners...

When millions of Americans cast their votes for tumultuous 2016 presidential election, six million Americans held their breath because they had no say in the matter. Those six million are felons, criminals carrying out their court-mandated prison sentences which include "civil death," the loss of voting rights. The condition of civil death has been used against criminals since ancient Greece and was brought over to America by the English colonists, but in modern times with modern ethics, such a practice raises several questions.

Namely, should felons be allowed to have a say in who becomes the president of our nation, or have they forfeited that right entirely?

Donald Trump, for one, does not believe that convicted felons should have the right to vote.

And considering that felons' votes could largely impact swing states, there is certainly room for discussion. In Florida, for instance, "more than 10 percent of the voting-age population is disenfranchised," and felons' voting rights are restored only "through a governor’s executive action or a court order. Similar rules apply in Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia," according to KQED News.

Presently, only Maine and Vermont grant felons the right to vote, even when they are incarcerated, whereas 38 other states (including the District of Columbia) give felons the right to vote only after the completion of their sentence. Some other states require the full completion of the prison sentence, including parole and probation — which can continue for one's entire life.

As it so happens, the states with the most restrictive felon disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affect African Americans — especially black men, with one out 13 rendered unable to vote. That's more than 7 percent nationally, as reported by the Sentencing Project. Maine and Vermont, on the other hand, (the only two states that allow felons to vote while imprisoned), are "both overwhelmingly white," notes KQED News.

Also interestingly enough, according to Edison Research for the National Election Pool's exit poll, those same "white non-Hispanic voters preferred Trump over Clinton by 21 percentage points (58 percent to 37 percent),"

The New York Times reported that a majority of the states where whites voted for Trump are "states where non-college whites outnumber college-educated whites the most: Iowa (by 30 percent), Wisconsin (by 25 percent), Ohio (by 24 percent) and Nevada (by 18 percent)." That maybe a large part of the reason why swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa succumbed to the Trump majority.

If felons were permitted to vote, would the swing states have chosen differently?

Some say yes because a disproportionate number of African Americans are jailed in several states across the U.S., particularly those in the South which also happens to have the strictest set of felon disenfranchisement laws.

However, others ask, does it even matter? After all, criminals have landed themselves in jail for a reason, and while for some it may have been due to difficult circumstances and an unfortunate series of events, it's still worth noting that they have violated the law.

But because of the current law, 46 percent of prisoners are being jailed for drug offenses, most of which we can safely assume may be marijuana charges. Out of the total population of convicts across America, 4.1 percent of prisoners are later found to be innocent. This means 1 in 25 adults is falsely imprisoned, and "in a country with millions of criminal convictions a year and more than 2 million people behind bars, even 1 percent amounts to tens of thousands of tragic errors," according to The Washington Post.

Society's harsh view of convicts and ex-convicts has often skewed our treatment of them.

As we've progressed into modern times, the law has been adjusted to our shifting moral compass which has resulted in many changes, such as granting women the right to vote and legalizing alcohol. These two changes in particular affected a majority of the population and thus, were backed strongly and consistently till the government complied. Felons, on the other hand, are locked behind bars with little to no interaction with the rest of society. They not only suffer a "civil death" for their crimes but also face exclusion from normality due to their isolation in prison society which follows the uncivil "code of the street."

Because of the danger associated with mixing criminals and civilians, as well as the fact that our prison system is already pretty messed up, it's all too easy to understand why it's easier for us to just restrict convicts' and ex-convicts' rights when it comes to having a say in political matters.

What we have yet to understand, however, is that the prison system does not become an entity separate from the existence of our nation. The prison system and its prisoners are very much a part of America, and they have understood the horrors of the prison system firsthand, which gives them not only more experience but the right to speak out about change in the system. And perhaps it should also give them the right to cast a vote for a leader who will change the degenerated American prison systems.

But it doesn't seem like that'll be happening anytime soon, considering that, in response to the governor of Virgina signing an executive order that restored the voting rights of over 200,000 ex-felons, Think Progress reports that president-elect Donald Trump said:

“That’s crooked politics...They’re giving 200,000 people that have been convicted of heinous crimes, horrible crimes, the worst crimes, the right to vote because, you know what? They know they’re gonna vote Democrat. They’re gonna vote Democrat and that could be the swing. That’s how disgusting and dishonest our political system is.”
Cover Image Credit: Creative Loafing

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Illinois Republicans Just Gave A Neo-Nazi A Major Platform

As if having a raging racist for President isn't enough.

Dictionary.com defines a neo-Nazi as a person who belongs to a political organization whose beliefs are inspired or reminiscent of Nazism. We learned about Nazis in school; they were the notorious villains of the story who came to life in a terrible, disgusting way. We learned their absolute hatred for any other race besides their own, insomuch that they murdered those they hated.

It is always a bit of a surprise to me that people who believe in this kind of hatred still exist today, simply because it seems impossible to hate someone that much. Yet society is still plagued with them, and in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, they’ve been given a microphone to express their views.

The villains that many minorities fear and continue to fear are alive and well, spreading their narrative around like wildfire, destroying everything they come in touch with.

And Illinois just made one of them extremely comfortable in one of the most powerful state positions.

70-year-old Arthur Jones became the Republican nominee for Congress in Illinois on Wednesday, upsetting many who had vehemently campaigned against his placement. Tim Schneider, the Illinois Republican Party chairman seemed to have fought the hardest, saying Jones isn’t a “real Republican” but rather a “Nazi whose disgusting, bigoted views have no place in our nation’s discourse”.

While Jones disregarded the accusations of being a Nazi, he has been an active participant in the white nationalist movement for years. He ran for mayor of Milwaukee with the National Socialist White People’s Party and runs a campaign website that features a page that disregards the Holocaust completely.

While many continue to make excuses for Trump and his entirely questionable feelings toward minorities, Jones is a Nazi through and through.

Allowing a Nazi into a position of power like Congress invites many dangerous ideals and actions into society, similar to the rise in White nationalism following Trump’s win.

After Trump’s win in the Presidential Election, hate groups have increased by four percent and white supremacist terrorism has seemed to have erupted. The largest white supremacist demonstration, Charlottesville, brought terror to minorities as it seemed the villians were trying to “take back their country”. Trump has not only refused to denounce ties with white supremacists such as former Klan leader David Duke, but has also had the audacity to surround himself with advisors that have direct ties to radicalism.

Whether you choose to see it or not, almost every shooter that has destroyed communities of schools and concert goers was a white nationalist seeking to somehow purify America. The second you hear about a shooting or a homeland terrorism attack, the first thought that pops into your head is a white nationalist.

Giving yet another Nazi a massive platform to continue to spread this kind of hatred will make things worse. We step back into a history that offers no mercy for minorities, a history that seeks to purify the natural diversity of human nature.

While nearly everyone agrees Nazis are bad news, not everyone agrees to truly recognize it. We’ve become a society that shames those who simply want validation and equal treatment. We disregard it as over-the-top and too much to ask for.

The only way to fight this hatred is recognizing what is going on and taking action about it. Don’t elect neo-Nazis, for one, and don’t perpetuate the narrative that they are harmless. Choose to love, choose to be good, fight the better fight. It’s really not that hard if you put your mind to it.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Sun Times

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You Shouldn't Take Part In March For Our Lives, And Here's Why

You’ll be surprised why.

There are zero reasons. We are marching for gun reform to ensure that everyone in this country is kept safe and that another tragedy like the Parkland shooting never happens again. 17 lives were lost which is 17 too many.

Please take part in history and march on March 24th. Be part of the change. In the meantime sign the petition, call your local legislators, and whatever you do, don’t stop talking about it.

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