Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

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Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby spudneck111 » Thu May 22, 2008 6:29 am

WARREN, Maine - A 47-year-old inmate at the Maine State Prison believes being able to register to vote is a way of speaking up.

"If you don’t speak up, nobody will hear you," said Jack Desrosiers. "It’s definitely important."

Desrosiers, serving 18 months for writing bad checks, was one of 200 inmates at the prison Wednesday who took part in a voter registration drive conducted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Maine. Prisoners were allowed to be interviewed between 1 and 3 p.m. about the drive.

"I’m not very knowledgeable about the issues," said Charles Jones, 32, of Portland, who is serving a 70-year term for murder. "I was 20 when I came here, and one of the things that lead to coming in here was that I didn’t have much involvement with society."

Jones, who is taking college courses, sees short-term prisoners leave without having changed their attitudes, and he sees them return. He believes that education and political awareness will help prisoners reduce the rate of recidivism.

"That’s why this drive is important, because otherwise people feel they don’t matter," he said. "This registration makes people feel as if they matter and not be a non-entity."

Michael L. Chasse, 33, of Lewiston has served 11 years and has an additional 22 years at Maine State Prison and eight years to serve consecutively in a federal prison for compound felonies.

"I think it’s great that the NAACP has put this thing together," he said. He believes having the vote will give prisoners a voice in the Legislature.

To register voters at the prison, NAACP leaders worked with Corrections Commissioner Martin Magnusson and officials from Maine’s three recognized political parties, Republican, Democrat and Green Independent.

Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the Portland chapter of the NAACP, other NAACP officials and three political party leaders addressed the prisoners. One representative of the media selected randomly from a list provided by Ross covered the drive.

"The NAACP will be 100 years old next year," Ross said. "It’s a continuing part of our mission to protect the voting rights of all people, including those in prison. We want to make sure those rights are made real and not just written on paper.

"Today represents the work of a lot of people from the Portland and Bangor branches of the NAACP," she said, adding that her organization has been pressing for two years to hold the voter registration drive.

Co-chairman Dawaud Uhma of the Portland chapter reviewed the mission and objectives for the NAACP. He said the association exists to ensure the political, educational and economic equality of all citizens, not just black people.

"We want to assure you the political process is intended for every citizen of the U.S. It has allowed this registration to happen," he said. "We want to franchise all people."

Robert Talbot, co-chairman of the Political Action Committee, said the NAACP is non-partisan, adding, "We do not endorse political candidates, but we do participate in the political process."

John Knutson, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, Julie O’Brien, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, and Betsy Garrold, former steering committee member for the Maine Green Independent Party, explained the values of their political parties.

Joseph Jackson, second vice president, and Michael Parker, president of the Maine State Prison Chapter of the NAACP, also addressed their fellow prisoners.

Maine and Vermont are the only two states that allow prisoners to cast ballots, a right that has existed in Maine since it became a state in 1820.

The prison has a capacity for 936 prisoners and a current population of about 890, according to Captain David George of the prison staff.

At 3 p.m., Ross delivered the 200 voter registration application forms to Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn of the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. in Augusta.

"If they never lived in Maine before their incarceration," Flynn said, "they can’t register here now." Prisoners may not register with the town of Warren, where the prison is located, but with the towns where they lived at the time they went to jail.

Flynn said Wednesday afternoon if a problem about residency arises, she will discuss it Thursday with Ross.
http://bangornews.com/news/t/midcoast.aspx?a=164676&utm_source=morning_update&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20080522&utm_campaign=morning_update

Big surprise, the NAACP going to prison to enroll as many people as they can that are dependent on the government for their well being. I wonder what party caters to their needs.

Another big surprise, Maine is only one of two states that allow this nonsense.
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Re: Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby mainejeff » Thu May 22, 2008 8:38 am

This really frosts my ***. Imprisoned criminals should not have the right to vote.......they gave up that right when they were convicted of criminal behavior........heck, some of them shouldn't even be breathing much less voting.
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Re: Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby stonemitt » Thu May 22, 2008 4:55 pm

That guy doing life for murder thinks he matters=that's funny right there!!
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Re: Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby stonemitt » Thu May 22, 2008 4:58 pm

meant to add it's even funnier he's going to vote dem and cancel spudnecks vote-hehehehehehehe
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Re: Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby spudneck111 » Thu May 22, 2008 6:35 pm

That is probably true, however, I fail to see the humor in that!!! You are going to reconsider that Obama thing, aren't you? He couldn't cancel out two of us. LOL
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Re: Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby X31 » Thu May 22, 2008 7:03 pm

Geesh, I would at least hope that those in for murder would be exempt. I'm sure the people they killed would like to have a vote too.
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Re: Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby coachhawk » Thu May 22, 2008 7:34 pm

They must have taken a page out of Bush's 2004 playbook when he was able to get the elementary votes to count...

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Re: Voter registration drive conducted at state prison

Postby bainsey » Thu May 22, 2008 11:51 pm

If anything, this story is only reminding law-abiding Mainers that criminals can vote. Maine and Vermont are the only states that never take away the right to vote in the case of criminal acts.

Some states take voting rights away for life if you're convicted of a felony. I can't say I agree with that either. If you're serving time, then you should lose the right, but if you're time is done, your right to freedom has returned, as should the right to vote.

Thoughts?
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