Monday, April 26, 2010

Democrats stand up for convicted felons serving time


Instead of standing up for the little guy, Democrats stood up for convicted felons this morning and gave initial approval to a bill that would grant parolees the right to vote.
"This is just the latest in a string of Democrat efforts to undermine the integrity of Colorado's election process," said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction. "Democrats don't support requiring the use of an ID to vote, but they advocate for same-day voter registration. No matter how extreme the proposal, Democrats are doing everything they can to improve their chances this November."

Senate Bill 179, sponsored by liberal Denver Democrat Sen. Pat Steadman, would allow criminals who are out of prison but still on parole the right to vote. This is not the first time Steadman has tried to enfranchise felons. As the former lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, he tried unsuccessfully in 2007 to amend an election cleanup bill to allow parolees the right to vote. Senate Republicans, lead by Penry, were able to block the bill from passing three years ago.

"Felons broke the law, and lost the right to vote as a consequence of their actions," said Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley. "We should not give voting rights back to them until they are done serving their sentence."

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, also pointed out a practical consequence of allowing parolees to vote. "Felons on parole often don't live in their community, but are often placed in a halfway house," he said. "This will result in a high concentration of parolees in one area and diminish the voting strength of the true residents of that area."

Even Colorado's liberal Supreme Court has denied parolees the right to vote. In 2006, the court ruled that a felon's full sentence is not served until all components--including parole--are completed, and thus their right to vote should not be reinstated until that time.

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