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Democratic advertising blitz awaits Donald Trump

advertising blitz Donald Trump

Long before Donald Trump swatted away his Republican presidential rivals, his likely Democratic opponent and her allies began laying traps for him.

Priorities USA, the lead super PAC backing Hillary Clinton, has already reserved $91 million in television advertising that will start next month and continue through Election Day. In addition, Clinton’s campaign and Priorities USA have both debuted online videos that cast Trump in a negative light — a preview of what voters will see on TV over the next six months.

So far, Priorities USA is the only group on either side that has rolled out such an ambitious advertising plan geared toward the general election. The group’s leaders say they’re trying to avoid what they see as the core mistake made by Trump’s Republican rivals — not pushing hard enough against him until it was too late.

“There’s a reason that we have a head start,” said Justin Barasky, a Priorities USA spokesman, “and it’s that we’ve taken Donald Trump seriously all along, unlike the Republicans.”

The group’s ad strategy will test what has been a hallmark of Trump’s GOP primary rise: his ability to withstand — even thrive in the face of — tens of millions of dollars in attack ads.

An Associated Press review of Priorities USA’s TV buys, collected by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, reveals a formidable 22-week advertising blitz through what the group considers key battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia.

In those states, Priorities USA will start ads in major metropolitan areas, then broaden its outreach to smaller cities as the November election approaches. The group will also start ads on satellite TV in September.

According to the CMAG data, Priorities USA plans to spend about $4 million a week through most of June. The group then slows spending through July, taking off the weeks of the Republican and Democratic conventions, when widespread television coverage essentially provides free media time for the candidates.

Priorities USA returns to the airwaves in August and begins unloading $60 million in ads between September and Election Day. The week of the election, Priorities USA plans to spend about $8 million in the seven battleground states.

The heaviest concentration is in Florida, where the group has reserved $23 million in time, mostly in Orlando and in Tampa.

The group also plans to spend about $19.5 million in the traditional presidential bellwether state of Ohio. More than half is for Cleveland, Akron and Columbus.

There’s no substantive GOP counterweight to the pro-Clinton effort — partly because Trump has repeatedly trashed big donors and called the outside groups that can raise unlimited money from them “corrupt.”

As the presumptive GOP nominee, Trump is now beginning his outreach to donors. But even if he fully embraces outside help, he’s far behind: One super PAC backing him, Great America, was almost $700,000 in debt at the end of March.

Another group that was a major player in the 2012 race, American Crossroads, is still “evaluating what our specific role will be,” said spokesman Ian Prior.

Television ads are only one part of Priorities USA’s strategy. It is putting at least $35 million into online advertising between June and Election Day, Barasky said. Those ads will largely aim to drive up turnout among core Democratic groups: African-Americans, Hispanics, women and younger voters, Barasky said.

Trump is already getting a taste of what some these ads will say.

On Thursday, Priorities USA overlaid audio of Trump talking about “unifying” the Republican Party with images of violence that has erupted inside and outside of his massive rallies. “I think we’re going to win in November,” Trump says at the end. “NOPE,” reads text on the screen. “Vote for Hillary Clinton.”

That follows an online video the Clinton campaign put out Wednesday that features clips of prominent Republicans, including his former rivals, bashing Trump in every possible way.

“He needs therapy,” says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at the end of the spot.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Darryl E. Owens: Second chances start with taking a second look past prison stripes

People remember President George W. Bush for his often-fractured way with words. Wordsmiths immortalized the presidential malapropism machine with his own category of flubs — “Bushisms.”

True, his tongue often may have been in overdrive as his brain shifted gears. On one occasion, however, Bush nailed it:

“America is the land of the second chance — and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.”

That’s how it should work. Yet, one pesky job application question — “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” — often carves potholes in the path forward.

In Florida — a state that recently warehoused a six-figure prison population — that’s a lot of bad road.

In studies of city employment audits, Harvard sociologist Devah Pager found a criminal record slashes in half the chances that an employer will call back.

That’s a massive problem considering the masses tarred with felony records. Some 70 million to 100 million Americans have served time; each year some 600,000 job seekers exit state and federal prisons.

Forget concealing that ignominy from employers. A recent study from HireRight, a pre-employment screening firm, found 73 percent of small businesses now conduct background checks.

That’s why President Barack Obama’s signature last week on a proposed rule to bar federal agencies from asking job seekers about their criminal past pending a conditional job offer would be a long-needed pacesetter — one that Florida must emulate to bolster economic opportunity, child welfare and public safety.

Obama wants to “ban the box,” the slogan of a campaign gaining national steam that encourages postponing asking the dreaded question until later in the hiring process.

“There are people who have gone through tough times, they’ve made mistakes, but with a little bit of help, they can get on the right path,” Obama said last November.

Indeed, 23 states, more than 100 cities and counties, and myriad businesses embrace the concept.

Florida’s response: largely, meh.

Finding a way forward that better reweaves Floridians with criminal records into the community fabric with solid, good-paying jobs should muster urgency in what’s become the Hoosegow State.

Florida now locks up 98,653 inmates in 55 state prisons. Another 107,118 offenders live under community supervision.

Every year, tens of thousands are sprung from prison. In fiscal year 2014-15, 32,668 inmates were released from Florida prisons with a slim chance at leveraging skills, trades and education gleaned in prison programs.

Last year, a New York Times/CBS/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that men with criminal records comprise 34 percent of jobless men ages 25 to 54.

In Florida, the box on job applications isn’t the only thing that’s problematic. A new report from Alliance for a Just Society, “Jobs After Jail: Ending the Prison to Poverty Pipeline,” noted 168 mandatory restrictions “make it nearly impossible” for individuals with “conviction records, to find good paying employment.”

Unemployment creates poverty and ultimately recidivism.

Not only is the ex-con caught in a catch-22.

As a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities,” notes that kids become innocent accessories when a parent’s job prospects dry up because of a criminal record. The report recommends that states expand “ban-the-box” policies.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry gets it: “I am committed to supporting efforts that reduce recidivism rates and create environments that improve the lives and communities of citizens seeking re-entry into society,” he said in a statement in advance of National Re-entry Week.

So does Anthony James, who owns Kustom Sounds Studio in Longwood, Fla. and hires ex-cons.

“Small-business owners like me … see the vicious cycle of incarceration and poverty in our communities,” he says. “We see the effects of a flawed justice system and employment discrimination on our revenue sheets.”

Banning the box doesn’t bar employers from due diligence, conducting background checks, or even asking about the applicant’s record. It only postpones the ask until after an employer has considered a jobseeker’s credentials before contemplating the weight of a conviction.

During the past legislative session, Senate Bill 448, a ban-the-box measure for public employers, failed. However, in the land of second chances, Florida still can do the prudent thing and afford hundreds of thousands of Floridians seeking redemption unbiased access to the path to a better life Bush so fluently described.

***

Former award-winning Orlando Sentinel columnist Darryl E. Owens now serves as director of communication at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla., the first higher education institution accredited to award bachelor’s degrees exclusively to students with learning disabilities, ADHD, and other learning differences. Views expressed are his own. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Proposed changes to nation’s school lunch program could impact thousands of Florida children

It’s a little-noticed move on Capitol Hill, but one that could negatively impact thousands of Florida children in districts around the state.

House lawmakers are proposing legislation that would roll back school lunch laws passed in 2010. These laws guarantee free lunches and after-school meals for children in high-poverty areas.

A proposal the House will consider (officially called the Education & Workforce Committee Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill) would change the criteria for what’s known as “community eligibility” — which means hundreds of Florida schools would no longer be able to offer free meals to their entire student bodies. Under the Community Eligibility Provision passed in 2010, any school in which 40 percent of the students automatically qualify for free or reduced-price lunch can offer free school breakfast AND lunch to all of its students. The measure being considered in the House would raise that threshold from 40 to 60 percent.

“Those schools would still be able to offer the regular school lunch program, and families could apply for free or reduced lunch meals, but they would likely lose the option to provide free meals to all students without taking applications. So it would make it harder for those schools to offer meals and harder for kids to get them,” says Zoe Neuberger, Senior Policy Analyst with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Nutrition advocates are already blasting the bill, which was proposed April 20 by Rep. Todd Rokita, a Republican from Indiana and chair of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

Under the measure, fewer students would qualify for free school meals, with overall savings of about $1.6 billion over 10 years. House Republicans would like to funnel those savings into summer food programs and a higher reimbursement rate for the school breakfast program.

However, critics of the legislation say potential savings would not offset the increased administrative burden on schools, increased social stigma for low-income students, and adverse health and academic impacts if kids aren’t getting enough to eat during the school day.

High-poverty Jacksonville stands to be impacted significantly if the bill becomes law, with about two-thirds of Duval County Public Schools currently participating in the program.

“Of all of the counties in Florida, Duval has the highest number of schools participating in community eligibility. I don’t think we can overestimate the impact it’s had, to make sure students are getting not just lunch, but breakfast,” says Deirdre Conner, director of advocacy and communications at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

 

Carlos Beruff joins Carlos Lopez-Cantera in supporting a Mexican border wall

Republican candidates for Senate in Florida are warming to the policy positions of Donald Trump when it comes to “building the wall.”

Manatee homebuilder Carlos Beruff is the latest, as evidenced by his recent interview with 880 The Biz in Miami.

Responding to questioning about the immigration problem from Latin America — which boiled down to “Are you in favor of a wall? Do you favor rounding them up?” — Beruff endorsed the concept of a wall on the Mexican border.

“As a business person,” Beruff said, “I always deal with problems one step at a time.”

Beruff added that it’s a “waste of time to talk about reforming immigration until you close the southern border,” a discussion that’s “like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while the hole’s still open.”

Thus, closing the border is crucial by any means, “whether it’s a wall or drones or a combination of technological things.”

The important question, alas, is left unaddressed by Beruff’s comments.

Will the Mexicans pay for it?

****

Beruff isn’t the only GOP Senate candidate, or even the only one named Carlos, expressing enthusiasm for Trump’s controversial position on a wall on the southern border.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera likewise offered qualified but undeniable support for the wall concept late in April.

When asked about the wall, Lopez-Cantera said it would be “part of the equation,” combined with technology, the use of the E-Verify system, and other safeguards designed to keep illegal immigrants from getting a foothold.

A senior staffer with the Lopez-Cantera campaign said the candidate’s support for the wall, in concert with other safeguards, was consistent with his previous position.

The daylight between the positions of the two Carloses on the wall seems to be that one prefers E-Verify as an enforcement measure and the other likes drones more.

CLC is more tepid in his support of Trump than Beruff. Lopez-Cantera didn’t mention him by name earlier this week, saying only “we need a Republican President.”

Beruff, unencumbered by historic fealty to the ashes of the Marco Rubio presidential campaign, had no problem endorsing Trump by name.

Expect GOP candidates to climb aboard the Trump Train in the coming days and weeks. The only difference is whether they’ll get on nearer the locomotive or the caboose. The managing of the Wall meme by Beruff and Lopez-Cantera illuminates how each candidate negotiates the inevitable.

Diane Roberts: Conservatives’ hysteria about genitals is silly and pointless

Conservatives used to be all about lower taxes and smaller government. These days they’re all about genitals: what you do with said genitals, with whom, and where you bare them to answer the Call of Nature.

The city council of Oxford, Alabama, defying both “political correctness” and the English language, declared that decent folk have a right to “quite [sic] solicitude [sic]” without wondering if the person in the next stall has different plumbing.

Otherwise, the restroom becomes a place of “increased venerability” [sic] with a lurking menace of “voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation, and assault and battery.”

A new ordinance decrees that any one of them dang perverts peeing in the ladies room could get six months in the county lock-up. Oxford Council President Steven Waits said, “We want to protect our women and children.”

Yeah, because dudes in dresses in the Walmart ladies room is a huge national menace, as they’ll tell you in the North Carolina Legislature, where members hastily convened a special session to push through a law regulating how transgender persons do their business in public facilities. And here in Florida, the Marion County School Board has decreed that if you weren’t born with a penis, you can’t pee with the bros.

A young man whose family is big into “biblical modesty” became upset that another young man, a kid who was born female but now identifies as male, uses the boys’ room at Vanguard High School. According to the “modest” lad, his organ-fixated father and their Liberty Counsel lawyers, when you use the wrong bathroom, you risk a disaster of biblical proportions.

Forty years of darkness. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together.

Or value-priced Egyptian cotton towels. In the wake of North Carolina’s hysteria, Target says it welcomes transgender people to whichever toilet “corresponds with their gender identity.”

It’s genital anarchy, y’all! The Family Research Council, those tireless monitors of people’s junk, immediately issued a fatwa, and now claims that a million outraged Americans are boycotting the big-box retailer.

Target has, of course, long been a tool of Satan: the salespeople rarely say “Merry Christmas,” and nine months ago, they stopped labeling toys for “girls” or “boys.”

No one is sure how many people will now buy from Target because they treat people with decency and courtesy. No one is sure how badly the boycott against North Carolina will hit the state’s economy. But mere jobs cannot compare to the horror of letting transgenders go wherever they like and, as the Speaker of the North Carolina House put it, “undermining civility and normalcy in our everyday lives.”

And about that “civility” and “normalcy.” You might want to pop a Xanax since it’s likely you’ve conducted your, er, bodily waste elimination next to a transgender person without knowing it. Because the only reason you’d know it is if you peek in there to see.

Which would make you the pervert.

The American Taliban love to raise the specter of “grown men” using “the little girls’ restroom,” as Sen. Ted Cruz put it.

If they have their way, the Cruzers and their fellow travelers in Florida, Alabama and North Carolina will soon insist we all hire some Potty Police to check the contents of your britches before you close the stall door.

Don’t confuse them with facts, such as there’s no evidence to suggest that transgender people hang around in bathrooms waiting to molest straight people. Or that straight people are much more likely to attack transgender people – or people they think are transgender.

Anyone wanting to protect children from unwanted sexual advances needs to keep them away from 1. Catholic priests; 2. Web-based groomers; 3. Republican members of Congress such as former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

And teach those kids that what’s between your ears is way more interesting and important than what’s between your legs.

Man, these Republicans need to get out more.

***

Diane Roberts is the author of “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.” She teaches at Florida State University.

Diane Roberts: Conservatives’ hysteria about genitals is silly and pointless

Conservatives used to be all about lower taxes and smaller government. These days they’re all about genitals: what you do with said genitals, with whom, and where you bare them to answer the Call of Nature.

The city council of Oxford, Alabama, defying both “political correctness” and the English language, declared that decent folk have a right to “quite [sic] solicitude [sic]” without wondering if the person in the next stall has different plumbing.

Otherwise, the restroom becomes a place of “increased venerability” [sic] with a lurking menace of “voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation, and assault and battery.”

A new ordinance decrees that any one of them dang perverts peeing in the ladies room could get six months in the county lock-up. Oxford Council President Steven Waits said, “We want to protect our women and children.”

Yeah, because dudes in dresses in the Walmart ladies room is a huge national menace, as they’ll tell you in the North Carolina Legislature, where members hastily convened a special session to push through a law regulating how transgender persons do their business in public facilities. And here in Florida, the Marion County School Board has decreed that if you weren’t born with a penis, you can’t pee with the bros.

A young man whose family is big into “biblical modesty” became upset that another young man, a kid who was born female but now identifies as male, uses the boys’ room at Vanguard High School. According to the “modest” lad, his organ-fixated father and their Liberty Counsel lawyers, when you use the wrong bathroom, you risk a disaster of biblical proportions.

Forty years of darkness. Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together.

Or value-priced Egyptian cotton towels. In the wake of North Carolina’s hysteria, Target says it welcomes transgender people to whichever toilet “corresponds with their gender identity.”

It’s genital anarchy, y’all! The Family Research Council, those tireless monitors of people’s junk, immediately issued a fatwa, and now claims that a million outraged Americans are boycotting the big-box retailer.

Target has, of course, long been a tool of Satan: the salespeople rarely say “Merry Christmas,” and nine months ago, they stopped labelling toys for “girls” or “boys.”

No one is sure how many people will now buy from Target because they treat people with decency and courtesy. No one is sure how badly the boycott against North Carolina will hit the state’s economy. But mere jobs cannot compare to the horror of letting transgenders go wherever they like and, as the Speaker of the North Carolina House put it, “undermining civility and normalcy in our everyday lives.”

And about that “civility” and “normalcy.” You might want to pop a Xanax since it’s likely you’ve conducted your, er, bodily waste elimination next to a transgender person without knowing it. Because the only reason you’d know it is if you peek in there to see.

Which would make you the pervert.

The American Taliban love to raise the specter of “grown men” using “the little girls’ restroom,” as Sen. Ted Cruz put it.

If they have their way, the Cruzers and their fellow travelers in Florida, Alabama and North Carolina will soon insist we all hire some Potty Police to check the contents of your britches before you close the stall door.

Don’t confuse them with facts, such as there’s no evidence to suggest that transgender people hang around in bathrooms waiting to molest straight people. Or that straight people are much more likely to attack transgender people – or people they think are transgender.

Anyone wanting to protect children from unwanted sexual advances needs to keep them away from 1. Catholic priests; 2. Web-based groomers; 3. Republican members of Congress such as former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

And teach those kids that what’s between your ears is way more interesting and important than what’s between your legs.

Man, these Republicans need to get out more.

***

Diane Roberts is the author of Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She teaches at Florida State University. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

John Meeks, Jr.: It’s time to reform education reform

In the mad dash to get federal funding for education reform, the accountability buzzword was bandied about as if simply replacing one system with another was going to magically transform public education into something better.

Florida, a state that still refuses to accept Medicaid expansion funding, was one of the states that saw no problem with receiving the Race to the Top and the strings that were attached. It was all in the name of “reform” and “accountability.”

Look no farther than Charlotte Danielson, the author of “Framework for Teaching,” who wrote in Education Week, that as “clear, compelling, and noncontroversial as these fundamental ideas were, the assurance of great teaching for every student proved exceedingly difficult to capture in either policy or practice.”

If one of the key architects of this flawed evaluation system is having second thoughts, perhaps it was time for frank assessment of how teachers are now assessed. That is not to say that the teachers in the field were not already aware of such failings.

Workplace stress and increasing job demands already ranked high in a survey conducted by the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association. I sensed that the new evaluation frameworks played a major role in this pressure on educators.

This is why it was an honor to be invited to participate in the Network for Public Education’s report on the impact of teacher evaluation. Over the course of a few weeks, I collaborated with my peers from around the country. We surveyed over 2,900 educators from 48 states for their experiences. In the end, we created “Teachers Talk Back: Educators on the Impact of Teacher Evaluation.”

Lest the report be seen as a partisan screed, remember that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a Barack Obama appointee, is the one who established standardized testing data for states to be eligible for funding under the RTTT program or to be eligible for waivers from the bipartisan Bush-Kennedy No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.

“Teachers Talk Back” points out the unintended consequences of relying on fuzzy data to hold teachers accountable. The American Educational Research Association (AERA) decried the use of such numbers to judge teacher performance due to “wide agreement that unreliable or poor-quality data, incorrect attributions, lack or reliability or validity evidence associated with value-added scores, and unsupported claims lead to misuses that harm students and educators.”

Such harmful effects were apparent in our survey. Responses from teachers and principals included, “Most everything my peers and I do in terms of instruction, planning collaboration, professional development, and reflection is driven by the need to improve student test scores, even to the detriment of student needs.”

Furthermore, “Teachers Talk Back” reveals a climate in which emphasis on pushing test scores up is causing competition rather than collaboration among educators.

“Collaboration is devalued since bonuses are tied to test scores, and teachers need [their own scores] to be better” one respondent said.

As we reviewed the survey, we worked in small groups to look at specific aspects of teacher evaluation. My group was responsible for looking at biases.

Nearly half of the respondents reported seeing bias against veteran teachers. One respondent said, “Older teachers are getting pressure to get out. Very subtle. But it exists.”

What was most instructive about “Teachers Talk Back” is that this is the feedback that I have been hearing from educators all along. It only took a while for the experts to catch on.

“I’m deeply troubled by the transformation of teaching from a complex profession requiring nuanced judgment to the performance of certain behaviors that can be ticked off on a checklist,” said Danielson.

Perhaps it is now time to reform education reform.

***

John Louis Meeks, Jr. is a public education advocate and freelance writer who has been published in The Florida Times-Union, Folio Weekly, Clay Today, and other publications.  Meeks has been teaching in Florida public schools since 2002. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

 

Jerry Brown to Rick Scott: “Start doing something about climate change”

California Gov. Jerry Brown is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to stop the “silly political stunts and start doing something about climate change.”

Scott is in California this week as part of a trade mission to Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco. The Associated Press reported Scott is scheduled to meet with 13 companies. He also participated in a panel discussion being hosted by the Milken Institute.

In his letter to Scott, Brown welcomed the Naples Republican back to California, “a state that in the last year has added more jobs than Florida and Texas combined.”

“We’re home to Hollywood, Silicon Valley and more than 50 Fortune 500 companies. We attract more than half of the nation’s venture capital investment, win more than a quarter of the nation’s patents and grow much of the nation’s fruits and vegetables. We’re paying down debt and building a solid rainy day fund,” said Brown in his letter. “Rick, a fact you’d like to ignore: California is the 7th largest economic power in the world. We’re competing with nations like Brazil and France, not states like Florida.”

Brown then told Scott that if he is “truly serious about Florida’s economic well-being, it’s time to stop the silly political stunts and start doing something about climate change — two words you won’t even let state officials say.”

“The threat is real and so too will be the devastating impacts,” wrote Brown, before directing him to a report authored by the Risky Business Project called “Come Heat and High Water: Climate Risk in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas.

The report notes Florida’s economy could suffer billions of dollars as labor productivity drops and the storm damage mounts due to extreme weather events.

“So, while you’re enjoying a stroll on one of California’s beautiful beaches this week, don’t stick your head in the sand,” wrote Brown. “Take a few minutes to read the rest of this report. There’s no time to waste.”

Letter-to-Gov.-Scott-5.2.16

Bradford County phosphate meeting blowup caught on video, snares VIP Steve Pieczenik

Activists opposed to phosphate mining in Union and Bradford Counties got into a videotaped scuffle at a Bradford County Commission meeting that ended with the forcible removal of  a local VIP named Dr. Steve Pieczenik, a Republican heavyweight and business partner of bestselling novelist Tom Clancy. 

Pieczenik, a former State Department official and author, served in the Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush (41) administrations. In addition to his foreign policy chops, he’s also known as a skilled hostage negotiator. Clancy’s Jack Ryan character (played by Harrison Ford in the 1992 thriller Patriot Games) is reportedly based on Pieczenik.

More controversially, he is also known for his appearances on programs like The Alex Jones Show, where he discusses conspiracy theories.

Pieczenik was joining fellow Bradford County residents to voice opposition to the HPS II Phosphate Mining Project, which has been undertaken by landowners in the area. More than 10,000 acres would be earmarked for mining, alarming activists concerned about potential air and groundwater pollution.

Darryl Paulson: It’s time to let more felons vote in Florida

Few things divide voters more than giving criminals the right to vote, even if they are former criminals.

The issue will likely receive additional attention with the decision by Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to use his executive power to extend voting rights to all 206,000 felons in his state. Even murderers, rapists and other violent felons will have their voting rights restored.

Critics raise several objections. First, they say the governor, acting alone, does not have the authority to institute such a significant change. Second, even if he does have the authority, he erred in granting voting rights to violent felons.

A final objection is that McAuliffe’s action was nothing more than a partisan political act to enroll Democratic voters to help his friend Hillary Clinton carry Virginia in the November presidential election.

Only two states, Maine and Vermont, have no restrictions on felon voting. Even those in prison may vote. Fourteen states reinstate the right to vote once prisoners have served their sentences, while 20 states restore voting rights after felons complete the sentence and probation and parole.

Three states, including Florida, impose a lifetime ban on felon voting unless the person appeals to the governor and cabinet and they agree to reinstate the right to vote.

Six states — Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia — exclude over 7 percent of voting-age adults from voting due to a felony conviction.

Florida excludes more people from voting than any other state, banning 10.4 percent of the state’s voting-age population from casting a ballot because of a felony. For Florida’s African-American population, 23.3 percent are disqualified. As The Sentencing Project noted in a 2010 report, “more people were disenfranchised in Florida than in any other state.”

All of the six states with the most disenfranchised felons are southern states with large black populations. There is a distinct relationship between race and voter disenfranchisement.

Most of the southern states instituted laws or constitutional amendments, such as the felon vote, after the Civil War to suppress black voting.

In Virginia, it was evident why these policies were instituted. In 1906, Virginia state Sen. Carter Glass explained why the Legislature passed the felon vote and other discriminatory barriers. The reforms will “eliminate the darkey as a political factor in the state in less than five years.” The end result, said Carter, will be the “complete supremacy of the white race in the affairs of government.”

Republicans, who control the Virginia Legislature, contend that the governor’s action was political. Based on many studies, the felons are likely to register as a Democrat over Republican by a margin of six to one.

Studies indicate that the felon vote will have little impact on election results because few felons bother to vote. At most, they might add one-half of 1 percent. In a competitive state like Virginia, however, those few votes could be the difference between victory and defeat.

Republicans, who generally oppose making it easy to restore voting rights to felons, point out that George W. Bush won Florida in 2000 by 537 votes. If felons were completely granted the right to vote, Al Gore would have won Florida and the presidency by 80,000 votes.

In 2007, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, with the support of the Cabinet, revised the felon-vote appeal process to make it easier for felons to get their voting rights restored.

Crist said that felons who have their voting rights restored are less likely to return to prison. Also, he argued that only 25 percent of felons go to prison. In other words, most felons have not committed violent acts. From April 2007 until March 2011, 154,178 Floridians had their voting rights restored.

But Gov. Rick Scott reversed the easing in the restoration of voting rights. Over the next two years, only 370 felons had their right to vote restored.

Under current Florida rules, felons must wait seven years after completing their sentences to apply for reinstitution of their voting rights. In addition, the system is so backlogged with appeals that it takes an average of nine years to complete the review.

A felon who leaves a Florida prison in 2016 cannot apply for restoration until 2023. After a nine-year review, it will be 2032 before the governor and cabinet hear the appeal. Any minor infraction, even a parking ticket, could derail the process.

Democrats like McAuliffe can be criticized for pushing for felon vote restoration only months before a national election in which Democrats would gain an advantage.

Republicans like Scott can be criticized for impeding the restoration of voting rights for felons even thought studies show it reduces recidivism.

Unlike McAuliffe, I have no sympathy for restoring voting rights to violent felons. Unlike Scott, I have no problem restoring voting rights to felons who have not committed acts of violence and, many of whom, never spend a day in prison.

Democrats cannot support restoration of felon rights simply because their party will benefit, nor can Republicans oppose restoration because they will suffer political harm.

There is plenty of shame for both parties. Wouldn’t it be novel if both parties jointly supported legislation that restored restoration for non-violent felons who have served their time? Such a program would reduce recidivism, which should be the goal.

OK! Wake me up. I had this weird dream about both parties cooperating to achieve a sound public policy.

***

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

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