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We oppose legislative attempts to extend voting rights to felons on probation or parole.

As we reported Thursday, state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed and Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, both St. Louis Democrats, are pushing bills to restore voting rights to felons on probation/parole, except for those convicted of misdemeanor/felony voting offenses.

State law currently allows convicted felons — who have completed their sentence and probation or parole eligible — to vote, unless they've been convicted of an election-related felony or misdemeanor.

Nasheed and Aldridge say that leaves 60,000 people out of the political process.

"This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. To me, this is a human rights issue," Nasheed said.

While it may be a human rights issue to her, it's hard to ignore the reality it's also a partisan issue.

The common belief is the majority of those potential 60,000 voters would vote Democrat, given the opportunity. That's why you'll find more Democrats supporting such measures and Republicans opposing them.

Newsweek reported an influential 2002 study found 73 percent of felons and ex-felons would vote Democrat. If they had been able to vote in 2000, they would have decisively carried Al Gore to victory in Florida and to the White House, the story said.

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has pushed for voting rights for felons still in prison.

It's not just Democrats that have tried to manipulate laws that would — incidentally, at least — give them an edge at the ballot box. Republicans do it, too.

So the question becomes, regardless of which political party benefits, is it the right thing to do?

In this case, it's not.

Voting is one of our most important liberties, something that is a right and responsibility.

But those who are still on parole or probation haven't finished paying their debt to society. Until they do, they've forfeited their vote. It's as simple as that.

News Tribune

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