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Arizona Felons Should Be Able to Vote More, Say ACLU

Okay, it's not the problems of the world are going to get solved if more convicted felons get out and vote.

There are other reasons why Arizona should consider changing the way it disenfranchises ex-cons from the electoral process, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona called "Breaking Barriers to the Ballot."

A team of students led by the local chapter of the ACLU studied Arizona's disenfranchisement laws -- which they found among the most restrictive in the country -- and interviewed election officials who appeared to have minimal knowledge of how felons could restore their rights.

The ACLU estimates that 176,103 former jail or prison inmates in Arizona don't have the right to vote, and few people are trying to get that right back under "onerous," complicated restoration procedures.

Giving convicted felons the right to vote clearly isn't a concept many Arizonans would find appealing, but all the ACLU is asking is that laws be brought in line with other states. If someone has paid his or her debt to society, (and the crime wasn't too heinous), giving back the right to vote doesn't seem too harmful.

For some reason, though, the ACLU doesn't seem very interested in helping convicted felons restore their right to own firearms. Maybe that's its next campaign. -- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern