Senator Patty Kuderer (D – Bellevue), despite a predictable implosion of her faulty felon’s voting rights bill on the floor of the Washington State Senate last year, is determined to embarrass herself and her Democrat colleagues again by introducing a new version of last year’s failure (SB6228).
The new version, SB5086, rehashes the same old argument that Sen. Kuderer made last year – we are facing a dire emergency unless we automatically restore voting rights to felons as long as they are no longer incarcerated, regardless of whether they have completed the terms of their sentence. Sen. Kuderer is in such a hurry for the non-yet-rehabilitated felons to start voting that she also wants the Secretary of State to waste valuable taxpayer dollars scanning the felon rolls once a month, to make sure every felon that is on day release gets to vote. Democrat Governor Jay Inslee, seemingly not wanting to miss out on the action, wants to speed the process further by just releasing prisoners because they might catch the coronavirus.
Are Inslee and Kuderer that hard up for votes these days that they have to start organizing behind bars?
Democrat Senator Manka Dhingra has also signed onto the bill and she should know better. On the one hand, as a prosecutor, she works against domestic violence, but on the other hand, she now wants to see those same criminals have their voting rights restored, even if they have not yet paid their debt to society (or even repaid their debt to their victim(s).
Last year’s floor debate on SB 6228 should have given Sen. Kuderer pause for thought, but it seemingly has not, as she is back again for more policy punishment.
Republicans pointed out that a felon’s voting rights should indeed be restored, but only after they have completed their full sentence, and repaid both the debt to society and to the victims of the crime.
In a bizarre twist of events, however, SB 6228 was killed during debate by Sen. Kuderer’s own party, because the Democrat leadership realized how bad the debate had started to look for their members.
After rejecting amendments to prevent gang members and seriously violent offenders (including those that commit violence against law enforcement officers) from voting before completing their sentences, things started to unravel for the proponents of the bill.
It turns out that trying to determine which criminal activity is acceptable, and which is not, is a little too complicated for those legislative Democrats.
In an impassioned floor speech, Republican Senator Doug Ericksen pointed out the hypocrisy that under the provisions of SB 6228 and adopted amendments, a felon’s voting rights would be restored for the murder of a child, but not for the crime of raping a child. The point was well made – both are obviously heinous crimes and voting rights should not be restored for either crime.
Democrats quickly backtracked and voted to put the bill out of its misery. Expect more of the same with SB 5086, as the Democrats try to explain how a murderer should be able to vote before finishing their sentence and serving his/her full debt to society – after all, the victim’s right to vote was eliminated forever.
Voting is a both a right and privilege, but society has decided that once you commit a crime severe enough, you should lose that right until you have completed all the terms of the sentence handed down by a court of law. With SB 5086, Sen. Kuderer and her Democrat cohorts are demonstrating that they don’t trust the court system, and don’t believe that restitution for the victims of the crimes matters.
Sen. Kuderer, on her website, claims to have “dedicated my career to standing up for those who have had their voices silenced” and “stood up against corporations and powerful interests to fight for what is right and what is fair.”
It now appears that Sen. Kuderer thinks it “fair” to stand with those who physically silence another human’s voice, and before they have met their legal obligations, let those felons have voting rights they have “silenced” in others.
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