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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Choiseul/Saltibus: Let’s Act, Before Kenny Enact!

Should a criminal be permitted to vie for public or elected office?

I guess that question is now almost redundant.  We are only now attempting to bolt the door long after the horse has jumped out of the stable; but can we the people of Choiseul/Saltibus be blamed? When we voted Rufus Bousquet in 1992 and again 1n 2006, we were not aware that he was a felon, a convicted criminal!

Today, we have the opportunity to examine the issue with the benefit of hindsight. We will do so in the broader context of what the literature terms “felony disenfranchisement” and then move on to connect to the question we asked at the beginning.

Felony disenfranchisement refers to “the practice of prohibiting people from voting (known as disenfranchisement) based on the fact that they have been convicted of a felony or other criminal offence.”

According to The New York Times, as many as 4 million U.S. citizens lack the right to vote because they are ex-felons. The “Sentencing Project” however puts the number of citizens who have lost the right to vote a little higher at 5.3 million, or 1 in 41 adults.

In the State of Arizona alone, the right to vote is denied to an estimated 18,000 ex-convicts released from prison and probation each year.

There are also prohibitions from voting in the UK. Incarcerated criminals are prohibited from voting but “civil prisoners” who are sentenced and those on remand (unsentenced) retain their right to vote.

There are also several other European countries which permit disenfranchisement, but only by special court order.

In New Zealand only persons convicted of electoral fraud or corruption are prohibited from voting for several years after their release from prison.

In China and Taiwan, the picture is slightly different. The retraction or suspension of “political rights” is an established form of punishment used in sentencing. The rights which are typically suspended include “the right to vote, to take public office, as well as the rights to political expression, assembly, association and protest”. In addition, the punishment may extend to other crimes and may include sentence to death or imprisonment for life.

Supporters of felony disenfranchisement argue that felonies are serious crimes, and “that persons who commit felonies have 'broken' the social contract, and have thereby given up their right to participate in a civil society”. They view disenfranchisement not just as a form of punishment for the crime committed, but also as a deterrent to future crime.

At the historic Lorne Launching in Choiseul, Dr Anthony presented the SLP’s policy position on “felony disenfranchisement” as it relates to parliamentarians.

We all know that Choiseul/Saltibus is represented in parliament by a convicted felon; and Dr Anthony delivered music to the ears of thousands of applauding supporters when he said that he will clean our politics from criminality by passing legislation to debar criminals from running for public office.

That “policy move” is slightly at variance with what happens in the US where it is possible for a felon to serve in the U.S. Congress; however, the House and Senate can vote to expel him/her if they deem him/her unfit or unqualified to serve.

I am all for Dr Anthony’s pre-emptive and proactive approach to dealing with “potential parliamentarians” who may be criminals. I don’t believe that proven law-breakers who should be graced with the honour to make laws especially in the case of Hon Rufus Bousquet who continues to break our finance laws - as well as flouting the integrity laws governing the conduct public officers/ministers - unabated with impunity.

The POWERHOUSE calls on all Choiseulians and Saltibusians to act “in numbers” when elections are called before Kenny enacts that law. Let us save our constituency and nation from further embarrassment and ruin.

Dr Anthony, the POWERHOUSE applauds you.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect Lorne is up to something. I hear rumours about the fraudulent voting practices which took place last elections. Do you intend to prevent Jimmy and Reds from voting?

    As for Rufus, I don't support this guy going up for elections in Choiseul. He is too much of a criminal.

    I hope you can find something in the law to trap him on nomination day. I can't wait to see that day.