by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Will asks, “What compelling government interest is served by felon disenfranchisement?”
Here’s the answer: If you’re not willing to follow the law, then you should not have a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote — either directly (in the case of a referendum or ballot initiative) or indirectly (by choosing lawmakers and law enforcers).
He says that it “is not a legitimate government objective for elected officials” to “fine-tune the quality of the electorate.” Really? That would mean that not only criminals but also children, non-citizens, and the mentally incompetent must be allowed to vote. In fact, we do have certain minimum, objective standards of responsibility and commitment to our laws that we require people to meet before they are given a role in the solemn enterprise of self-government.
People who have committed serious crimes against their fellow citizens don’t meet those standards. And those crimes can include such “non-violent felonies” as, say, treason and espionage, or voter fraud and public corruption, white-collar crime and felonies merely “concerning drugs” — like trafficking in fentanyl-laced heroin and selling it to minors, for example.