DOJ urging state to put felons back on voter rolls has learned that the Voting Section at the Department of Justice has been providing “non-binding” advice to states about helping felons fully exploit any state laws which would restore their right to vote. This information came to us after yesterday’s posting that the Voting Section website now has a page dedicated to helping felons find a way to get back their ability to participate in elections. We have learned that the Voting Section has been working with states and gently “encouraging” them to speed the process up and do whatever they can to help felons get the right to vote. The central question about this activity is: what does it have to do with any federal law enforced by the United States? It doesn’t. It is an effort to alter the electorate for future elections. There is no provision of Federal law that empowers the Federal government to encourage, aid, suggest or otherwise have anything to do with telling states what they ought to be doing regarding state felon voting provisions.

One thing the Voting Section can do, which they aren’t, is ensure that all U.S. Attorney’s offices are providing state governments with the list of felons convicted in Federal Court so their names can be removed from the voter rolls. U.S. Attorney’s all over the country are failing to do so and the Department has done nothing to correct the problem despite knowing about it for over a year.

Next time you hear the Department say they can’t do this or that case because of resource issues, ask them about their expenditure of resources to do things that have no basis in federal law regarding telling states how to handle their felons.

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