On the front page of Monday’s Washington Post, reporter Krissah Williams Thompson chronicled liberal efforts to register felons to vote for Barack Obama. The story was stuffed with liberal activists, but nowhere in Thompson’s story was a single source who was critical of restoring voting rights to felons.
Thompson made it clear that neither the McCain nor the Obama campaigns were actively registering felons, but the liberal groups clearly assume the felon vote is a Democrat vote. The hero at the story’s beginning is Obama-backing activist Reggie Mitchell, who hopes to overtake the Republicans in Florida:
Mitchell is a leader of a disparate group of grass-roots Democrats and civil rights activists who are trying to register tens of thousands of newly eligible felons. They have taken up the cause on their own, motivated by the belief that former offenders have been unfairly disenfranchised for decades....
In Alabama, Al Sharpton's younger brother, the Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, will take his "Prodigal Son" ministry into state prisons with voter-registration cards for the first time. The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed suit there and in Tennessee to make it possible for an even larger class of felons to register. In Ohio, the NAACP will hold a voter-registration day at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland this month to register "people caught up in the criminal justice system," a local official said. In California, a team will stand in front of jails on Aug. 16 to register people visiting prisoners and encourage them to take registration cards to their incarcerated friends or family members, some of whom can legally vote....
Mitchell left a personal-injury practice in 2004 to become Florida legal director for the nonprofit People for the American Way Foundation. Leading the liberal advocacy group's state voting rights project, he sent out news releases, lobbied politicians and, in 2006, marched to the statehouse with the ACLU and others, demanding that ex-offenders be allowed to vote.
Since the law was changed, the ACLU and People for the American Way have been reaching out to ex-offenders through Web sites that help people figure out whether the state has acted on their cases. Mitchell oversaw the project that helped build the foundation's Restore My Vote site.
Thompson also participated in an online Q&A at washingtonpost.com, which featured the critical voices left out of the newspaper story. One worried about how it will be exploited by conservatives:
New York: This just seems like a horrifyingly bad idea from a political perspective. All the McCain campaign heeds to do is run a bunch of photos of black ex-felons with Obama stickers, and pow, Obama has lost a few swing states full of edgy white voters. Could these efforts in fact end up tilting votes away from the activists' favorite candidates?
Another offered the classic rebuttal that would have been easy for the Post to find:
mediaskeptic: It's interesting that activist Mitchell compares the disenfranchisement of felons (!) to the historic disenfranchisement of blacks. I guess can conclude that our educational system's pushing of postmodern attitudes has robbed much of the public of any ability to discern how felons, black or any other color, neither deserve to vote nor have any particularly valuable platforms to back politically. Are they in favor not only of Obama but also of leniency for all misdemeanors and felonies, so that they can continue to prey on people? This all comes at the expense of law-abiding members of society.
Some were sassy:
Dunn Loring, Va.: If they could, do you think Democrats would register prisoners at Guatanamo? [sic]
Thompson just posted critical comments, and made no attempt to engage them. Some inquiries were just odd, like the person suggesting drug addicts are no more to blame for their behavior than diabetes sufferers:
Kensington, Md.: Aren't most people who are in our prison industry's Gulag system drug "offenders"? Given that drug addiction is a brain disease and not a legitimate crime, and we don't lock up people with diabetes, I'm glad these unjustly imprisoned people are getting their rights back. Thank you for doing this article.
In this case, Thompson sweetly replied: "Thanks for reading."