August 24, 2021

Have you heard about the latest voter registration drive in North Carolina?

It’s for people who’ve committed a felony, been in prison but are now on probation or on parole.

At a time when most folks are focused on questions over COVID vaccines, mask-wearing and getting kids back to school, the liberals are on the move and have figured out another way to get a few more voters to the polls.

That’s right – a three-judge panel ruled Monday that an estimated 55,000 North Carolinians who had committed a felony and had served time in prison but were out on parole or probation could now vote in NC elections.  The News & Observer said that, if this ruling stands, “North Carolina will be the only state in the South to automatically restore voting rights to people after they leave prison.”

Conservative leaders in the General Assembly plan to appeal the decision.  They don’t think this kind of decision should be made from the bench but rather by the NC General Assembly.

It seems to be just common sense that parole or probation is part of the sentence for a convicted felon.

A public radio website – WFAE in Charlotte – defined the situation allowing felons to vote again like this:

“People convicted of a felony in North Carolina temporarily lose citizenship rights, such as the right to vote. People who were registered to vote before their felony conviction will automatically have their registrations canceled by their local elections board. Additionally, any attempts to register to vote while an active felon is a felony.”

“However, after completing judgment and their sentence against them, such as parole and community service, previously convicted felons will be eligible to vote.”

That sounds reasonable.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups who had working to change the law on felons voting jumped immediately at the opportunity delivered by the three-judge panel and said they would begin “educating people with criminal records,” with one leader saying,

“Starting tomorrow, we plan to start a voter registration drive across the state.”

The N&O website article gave two different numbers for the number of potential voters that might be registered and become able to vote as a result of this judicial action: “55,000” and “70,000.”  Either way, it’s a significant number of people with criminal records that could be added to voter rolls unless judicial appeals are successful.

Drip…drip… drip.  Seems like every week, decisions and actions that used to be understood as bad ideas confront us and gradually become the norm.  One day, we’ll wake up and ask “how did we get so far off track?”