Last night I lay awake in bed with a puzzle racking my brain. How can I finish the sentence “sex offenders shouldn’t be allowed to vote, because ____”?
It’s an exercise I go through often, and certainly during every legislation session, where someone comes up with a new “sex offender” rule and I try to play devil’s advocate and come up with some previously unforeseeable scenario, where I can make the rule seem rational.
Sex offenders can’t be garbage men? OK… how about ‘sex offenders shouldn’t be allowed to haul garbage because they may drive past a kid and toss them in the truck?’ Or, how about ‘sex offenders shouldn’t be permitted to work as garbage men because they could rummage through people’s trash looking for discarded photos of children.”
Or last year’s ridiculous “drone bill”? OK… how about ‘sex offenders shouldn’t be allowed to own drones because drones may have cameras with which they can take pictures of kids… (as opposed to cell phones or actual cameras)’? Or, how about ‘sex offenders shouldn’t be allowed to own drones, because they may have an aerial fetish and could mishandle the remote control while masturbating which could cause it to crash and injure a child’?
But no matter how hard I thought about it or how random a scenario I envisioned, I could not come up with any rational reason why a bill that would restore voting rights to felons in Florida would expressly exclude murderers and sex offenders.
What’s the potential liability in voting? Schools are generally closed on election day, but even so, Florida offers vote-by-mail. Could they be worried that sex offenders will draw dirty pictures on their ballots?
As far fetched as I could envision the scenarios, I couldn’t come up with a single valid justification for excluding sex offenders (or murderers, for that matter) from voting. Voting!!!! Seriously, what’s the horrible harm that can come of it?
It really, really bothers me!
Why, you may ask, does it “really, really” bother me? When there are so many other sex offender challenges to battle; such as residency restrictions, proximity ordinances, burdensome in-person registration requirements and my chronic underemployment caused by the public shaming list, why is my right to cast a vote every few years even on the radar of things that eat away at me?
Because all these other rules and restrictions are driven by government. Whether you believe that every vote counts or one vote won’t make a difference, it would be nice to at least have some say. Excluding me from my right to vote, while convicted armed robbers and drug kingpins will be able to, is a slap in my face. It says, you don’t matter. You don’t count!
Well I count too!