Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Vote for the felons

This Felon voting thing is getting weirder by the day. Now we have the Governor and the GOP legislative leadership digging into academic research to prop their particular arguments.

It seems there are a number of profs in the Big Ten sociology departments that spend a lot of time thinking about future-felons, felons, ex-felons and their efforts to engage in society. And a few of these guys have generated some data that is of real interest to politicians -- felon voting habits.

Vilsack, in his initial announcement of the offend-the-victims-voting-rights Executive Order, noted, without reference, to some "research":

“The right to vote is the foundation of our government and serves as a symbol of opportunity for our citizens,” Governor Vilsack said. “Research shows that ex-offenders who vote are less-likely to re-offend and the restoration of voting rights is an important aspect of reintegrating offenders in society so that they become law-abiding and productive citizens.”

Okay.

While the GOP guys found some pay dirt about political preferences of franchised felons in an interestingly titled paper published in the American Sociological Review.

Rants' office circulated a 2003 study by sociologists from the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University arguing that Democrats would benefit most from permitting felons to vote.

In the study, published in the American Sociological Review, Christopher Uggen of Minnesota and Jeff Manza of Northwestern contended that seven in 10 votes cast by disqualified voters would have gone to Democratic candidates in a series of U.S. Senate elections between 1972 and 2000.

Hum.

I suspect the Uggen & Manza paper is the same study that went without attribution in the Governor's comments - The title's a little messy for someone making a policy on a purely good government argument.

Ironically, the most interesting outcome of all of this is a residual digression into causality in the land of academic blogging. This interesting side track on causality might be worth pointing out to some of our erstwhile political operatives, as it may behoove them to understand the concept before they plop a study into a Presidential Wannabe's speech.


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