Using the drug war to keep blacks from voting

There are so many destructive elements of our drug war, and this is just another one. It’s one that we’ve talked about here numerous times, but The Nation has a new article discussing the impact this year.

Has Florida Created a Trap at the Polls for Ex-Felons?

Lewis runs into Blair Bass, a 44-year-old customer service attendant. He was released from prison in 2009 for a felony conviction from 2001. Upon release, he says he was notified by the state’s elections division that his voting rights had been restored. A few months ago, Bass received another letter from the county telling him that he’s no longer eligible to vote because of his felony conviction. This confused him, because the county had also just sent him his voter identification card. He displays it from his wallet; it shows he registered in April 2011.

Bass wants to know if he should vote in November, but Lewis can’t be sure if he qualifies. She’s worked for years trying to get more black people to the polls, so it pains her to say what comes next. She tells Bass, as she has many others like him, not to vote.

Lewis fears that the former felons are headed into a “trap” set for them, and for the whole voting rights movement—one in which confused felons could end up in legal trouble and accused of voter fraud. Her suspicions are not unfounded.

The unbalanced drug war has created the largest increase in black ex-felons, and states like Florida sure seem to have been trying hard to use voter laws and the drug war as a way of silencing the black vote.

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15 Responses to Using the drug war to keep blacks from voting

  1. nick says:

    What are you talking about? Everybody knows the drug war has no racial ties and is perfectly fair when dealing with black people.

  2. Francis says:

    This raises a question. When the drug war is over, should former prohibitionists be stripped of their voting rights? (This would obviously be after their trial and conviction for war crimes.) I’m torn. On the one hand, I don’t want to seem like a hypocrite. But on the other, we’re talking about people who have demonstrated pretty definitively that they shouldn’t be influencing policy. Thoughts?

    • Cliff says:

      I think tarring, feathering, and a ride out of town tied to a rail is appropriate for people like prohibitionists.

  3. Peter says:

    by continuing to oppose legalization obama is producing disenfranchised felons out of his own base. some might ask what he s been smoking

  4. claygooding says:

    You know the pot enthusiasts are disappointed in Obama’s lack of positive action on marijuana legalization but if I was black,brown or blue,his in-action on the racial application of the drug laws would be having me scratch my head,,to change my luck.

  5. Duncan20903 says:


    I’ve never really understood why a felony disqualifies a person from voting. What, are they afraid that they’ll vote crooks into office?

    Did everyone know that 30% of Americans can expect to be arrested before they’re 23 years of age? linky

  6. Servetus says:

    Few people are as well informed about the so-called justice system as those who have witnessed it from within a cage. Nelson Mandela fell into this category. Civility of a government is still measured by the civility shown to its prisoners and the accused. But informed voters? Horrors.

    It isn’t just about racism. The kind of scumbags who repeatedly rise to become political leaders in Florida don’t want hoards of little Mandelas upsetting their carefully crafted system of corruption. So part of their statecraft goes into creating a kind of Florida apartheid system using voting rights restrictions and poll trickery.

    • Windy says:

      I think that kind of thing is endemic in politics across these united States of America, far more than is commonly believed.

  7. War Vet says:

    Yet the African American has been dying for the war on drugs in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . if any of these black heroes decide to light up for PTSD and get caught -we going to take away their freedom to vote -though they are the reasons why any of us today have the right to vote in the first place. Sad world. Let us hope that if these cops don’t just shut up and sit down on the war on drugs, more will be blessed to die for drugs like so many in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, 9/11 and Mexico do and have.

  8. allan says:

    and of course, there is always that tricky question, what about the children?

    The Throwaways

    Every day, offenders are sent out to perform high-risk police operations with few legal protections. Some are juveniles, occasionally as young as fourteen or fifteen. Some operate through the haze of addiction; others, like Hoffman, are enrolled in state-mandated treatment programs that prohibit their association with illegal drugs of any kind. Many have been given false assurances by the police, used without regard for their safety, and treated as disposable pawns of the criminal-justice system.

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