Home   Newsletters

April 2007
President's Report, Spring 2007 (Marianna Scheffer)
Notice of Annual Meeting
Publicly-Funded Elections (Sue Dursin)
Report from the 2007 Nominating Committee (Marian Wilkins)
Treasurer's Report / Proposed Budget April 2007
Proposed Program for 2007-08
Initiative / Referendum (Sue Dursin)
Candidate Forums (Sue Dursin)
State Convention
Vote Count (Marian Wilkins)
Kona Meeting (Marian Wilkins)
Minutes - LWV Hawaii County - March 10, 2007 (Maiden Temple)
D.C. Voting Rights - Part I (Sue Irvine)
D.C. Voting Rights - Part II (Marianna Scheffer)
Washington, D.C. Voting Rights

D.C. Voting Rights - Part II

I gave a talk and discussed material on D.C. voting rights with my class of high school equivalency students at Kulani Correctional Facility. They were interested to hear about the D.C. situation; most of them had recently taken the "Government and Law" unit of the high school program and so were able to ask good questions and to express the opinion that depriving citizens of a basic right like voting was wrong.

We discussed the disenfranchisement of felons, who, no matter what their crime has been and whether they have served their sentences, are nonetheless citizens. On what basis are they disenfranchised? We discussed the class and race aspects of disenfranchisement in U.S. history, particularly the fight for voting rights in the South. Discussions with these men are always lively. Of all the students I have encountered in my many years of teaching, I must say that prisoners are my favorites because they love to "talk story". They become especially impassioned about issues of rightness and fairness like this one!

We concluded, as a group, that it is wrong to keep citizens from voting; it is the birthright of those who are born in the U.S. and is the acquired right of naturalized citizens and should not be infringed upon for any reason.

Then we examined the statistics on disenfranchisement of felons from state to state. Only four states allow incarcerated felons to vote and do not deprive these citizens of their vote for any reason. Some states permanently disenfranchise felons, as in the well known case of Florida. We discussed the way states such as Florida effectively keep down the vote of African American males, who are far more likely than any other group of Americans to have felony convictions. And, of course, a large percentage of D.C. citizens are African-American and have no one in Congress representing them.

All in all, this was a thought-provoking discussion. The class was small but participation was good, and they took material with them to share with others.

Marianna Scheffer

Top   Home   Newsletters