State Rep. Martin J. Quezada, has a nifty new scheme for increasing the number of Democrat voters. The Avondale Democrat has sponsored HB 2132, which would automatically restore the right to vote to released prisoners who have been convicted of two or more felonies.
Quezada has more than a passing interest in the controversial topic. He’s an immigration and criminal defense lawyer whose practice also includes election law. Like Barack Obama, he refers to himself as a “community activist.”
Current law (Title 13, Chapter 9) allows restoration of voting rights for first-time felons after completing probation and paying fines and restitution. Quezada’s bill intends to eliminate those pesky provisions, since he says the fines are an impediment to exercising good citizenship by voting.
Most Arizonans would likely agree that “good citizenship” is a commodity in short supply with those who have been convicted of numerous felonies — but that doesn‘t deter supporters of increasing the Democrat voter base.
Cronkite News, the left-leaning ASU Journalism School student team that fills in where the Arizona Republic’s dwindling number of actual reporters once toiled, quotes the left-agendized Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for prison and sentencing reform. According to its estimates 200,000 felons in Arizona remain ineligible to vote. That’s enough to make any Democrat salivate.
The article featured obligatory interviews with the ACLU executive director who agrees voting rights should be automatically restored, and Donna Leone Hamm, founder of Middle Ground Prison Reform, who also sees voting as a “bridge for felons to rejoin society.”
She should know. Her husband, James Hamm, then a drug dealer, shot two men in the back of the head at point-blank range during a robbery in 1974. After his early release, he had his rights restored in 2001 and registered to vote the same day. He also took up a seat at the ASU Law School where he was admitted as a law student but not allowed to practice based on grounds of moral turpitude.
Arizona’s law-abiding citizens have every reason to regard the restoration of voting rights as a privilege — to be earned by fulfilling obligations outlined in state law. HB 2132 should find its place in the round file.