Today, the DC Council held a public hearing on the "Restore the Vote Amendment Act of 2019", legislation which if passed, would give voting rights to felons currently incarcerated. As drafted, the bill would provide voting rights to "District residents" currently held in federal prisons outside of the District of Columbia.
According to a hearing notice from the DC Council:
"Currently, non-incarcerated District residents with criminal records are fully enfranchised, as well
as residents currently incarcerated for misdemeanors or those incarcerated in the District and
awaiting trial for a felony offense. District residents are not considered incarcerated if they have
completed a court-ordered sentence of confinement and subsequently reside in a halfway house or
other community supervision center, or if they are otherwise on court-ordered supervision."
Notably, neither the notice or the legislation makes any mention of restitution paid to the crime victims who ultimately suffered at the hands of these potential new voters. As drafted, felons who have yet to make any amends to society, or to the citizens they impacted, would be able to vote in both local and federal elections in the District of Columbia.
It should also be emphasized that the act would apply to those currently held outside of DC, by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. If passed, this legislation would lead to less accountable voting standards, as all voter registration, and elections administration required to provide enfranchisement would be done by mail.
Clearly, the DC Board of Elections, which notably, removed "Ethics" from their purview in 2012, would be tasked with burdensome oversight, co-operation with the Bureau of Prisons, and managing a number of uncertainties that would certainly arise from having felons, currently located outside of the District, voting in our elections.
This legislation was unanimously sponsored by all members of the DC Council, which has not had a Republican member since 2008.