In America’s prisons, the Left mines for votes

Felons are the Democrats’ newest constituency in the subversive crusade for social justice. The post The Left Mines For Votes in America’s Prisons appeared first on The American Conservative.

The future of the Democratic Party must be criminals. Leftist activists work hard to get their votes. Welcome to the newest front in the ongoing war against corrupt American elections.

You haven’t paid attention if you think it’s absurd to let convicts determine the future of a country.

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The Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are pushing a bill that would end “disenfranchisement of people convicted for a felony when they are incarcerated.” Tim Walz, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisholm and Tim Walz, both Democrats, have signed felon voter in their respective state laws.

Illinois and Ruby-red Nebraska have both put similar proposals forward. Washington extended the franchise to former convicts before the 2022 midterms. Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee, the Democratic Governor of Washington, called it “expanding access to democracy”. Three other Democratic bastions, Maine, Vermont and D.C., already allow “incarcerated” persons to vote.

Leftists shriek that a conviction for a felony constitutes a disability, or worse, an atrocity against civil rights. But protecting elections against lawbreakers has been a part of the American republic for almost as long as it’s existed. It was almost universally agreed, until recently, that it’s barbaric for people who commit violent crimes or other serious crimes to be allowed to vote or hold public office or even carry a firearm.

But that was , beforeDemocrats were determined “save democracy” from dangerous conservatives through federalizing elections and increasing the electorate. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Democrats’ 735-page John R. Lewis Act failed in 2022. The act would have granted automatic voting rights to felons upon their release, gutted voter ID laws, and implemented automatic voter registration. The cynical operatives are on a mission to find the next large voting bloc in Washington.

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The Brennan Center for Justice is the main source for the left’s “election reforms”, with the support of major progressive foundations. The Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York, among others, paid for a 2019 Brennan Center report that proposed “automatic restoration of voting rights after incarceration” across the country.

Ideologues portray felon disenfranchisement either as a relic from Jim Crow, or as a backwardness of colonial times. In either case they condemn the practice as shamefully anti-democratic. Then they suggest that re-enfranchisement is the next logical move in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. As if law-abiding African Americans should be lumped with thieves, murderers, and rapists.

The real reason for enfranchising criminals is to flip red states. This appeal is far less noble. Since 2010, the left has invested a fortune in schemes designed to expand the voting electorate, believing that this would lead to Democratic victories or even a permanent Democratic majority.

According to the PAC Mind the Gap, 501(c),(3) tax benefits allow nonprofit voter registration to be three to four time more cost-effective compared to party-run drives. In 2015, Corridor Partners, another liberal consultancy, boasted that it would cost 210 million for “large-scale multi-year voter-registration programs” to “fundamentally change the electorate” in up to 13 “swing” states by 2020.

This includes defeating laws that protect voting integrity. Fair Elections Center, for example, regularly sues state governments to restore felon voting rights. It also fights voter identification measures and runs voter registration campaigns on college campuses.

Simply put, operatives care more about identifying likely Democratic voters in states that are swing states than convincing current voters to back far-left candidates. This cynical strategy is what has allowed the Democratic Party to make massive gains in once-red states such as Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina during the last decade. The left’s plan to take over the country is a step closer with the expansion of voting rights for felons.

The Democracy Alliance, its largest donor collective has developed a coordinated spending strategy that is responsible for many of the recent advancements in felon enfranchisement.

The alliance does not spend its own money; it instead gathers the most influential mega-donors on the left to coordinate their spending on activist organizations working on the latest political fronts. The goal is maximize impact and minimize overlap.

A private 2016 Strategy Memo reveals that the Democracy Alliance has developed a pair of 501(c),(3) and (c)(4) pooled funds, which are dedicated to funding groups that push for automatic voter registration in targeted states. It is interesting to see how these two policies are related. Together, they will:

  • Add millions of voters on the voter rolls
  • Transfer the responsibility of voter registration permanently to the government
  • One of the manifestations in our criminal justice system of structural racism
  • Increase the political power and voice of women, low-income people, young people and communities of color.
Source: Democracy Alliance 2020 Investment Portfolio Updates & Progress, Fall 2016. ( archived).

The pooled money is housed in two non-profits run by Arabella Advisors. Their $1.7 billion “dark” money network is the largest lobbying force in America. Arabella’s non-profits were used by Democracy Alliance members to hide their identities while funneling large sums of money to far-left advocacy groups. The money was ultimately paid out to the Arabella non-profits.

We could speculate about the source of some funding. Patricia Bauman who founded the Democracy Alliance and a representative of the Wyss Foundation whose donor is Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss oversee the pooled fund. Both are major donors of the Arabella Network.

Also, it is worth noting that Arabella has a felon re-enfranchisement team: Secure Democracy USA. This group believes that is the policy similar to early voting and ballot curing.

Florida’s 2018 felon voter rights restoration campaign provides a glimpse of the campaign in action. The Sunshine State was long at the top the Democracy Alliance Target List. It aimed to “permanently transform” the state’s voter base by adding up to 1.8 million new potential voters to its rolls.

The Democracy Alliance chose a constitution amendment that was almost exclusively funded by two groups, Arabella’s the Sixteen Thirty fund and American Civil Liberties Union. Together they provided 94 per cent of the $10 million campaign budget. The measure was passed by a large margin.

The left turned to America Votes for strategy, mobilization and communication in order to “get [Florida’s] constitutional amendment onto the ballot.” America Votes is the self-styled “coordination hub of progressive community” and a key voter turnout driver.

America Votes partnered with three other groups: the Southern Coalition for Social Justice – a North Carolina litigator modelled on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) infamous Southern Poverty Law Center; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children – a California lobbying organization that seeks to defund police ; and the Florida Restoration Rights Coalition – the campaign’s sympathetic face.

If that sounds innocuous, consider that the Florida Restoration Rights Coalition (FRRC), which is a group of lawyers and activists, today lobbies against a bill for 1 billion dollars worth of court fees owed by convicted individuals who are prohibited from voting until they pay their debts. It may seem innocuous but in 2020, the coalition received $16 million in payment from New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg – who spent $100 million on defeating Trump – to pay legal debts for felons in order that they could vote in the 2020 presidential elections. This smelt a lot like vote buying to observers.

The FRRC is not stopping there. They also plan to abolish the cash bail and drop the mandatory minimum sentences, as well as radically transform Florida’s criminal justice system. For this, the group has been nominated by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, a New York-based law firm, for the Nobel Peace Prize for March 2023.

Stroock calls the group a “grassroots non-profit,” but it is actually FRRC, the 501(c )(4) wing Tides Nexus based in California. Tides is the second largest “dark money network” on the left, with $1.5 Billion raised in 2021 alone. This was nearly double the amount raised by both the Republican and Democratic National Committees during the 2022 elections. Tides is known for spawning professional activists groups that operate within the nonprofits of the network until they become independent. People for the American Way, for example, began as a Tides initiative in the 1980s. Tides Advocacy benefits from donations made to FRRC.

The coalition, which was originally founded by the New York-based American Civil Liberties Union before moving to Tides in 2010, is not a nonprofit. The Brennan Center in Washington, D.C. provided “legal, policy, and research expertise.” Forward Justice, a group that aims to turn southern states blue, and Alliance for Safety and Justice helped pass Florida’s 2018 felon-enfranchisement law, provided “strategic, planning, and advocacy” services.

The Louisiana-based Voice of the Experienced, the anti “voter suppression” organization Faith in Florida and the Formerly Involved, Convicted People and Families Movement, which is a fundraising platform for Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, met FRRC’s needs in terms of get-out the vote and communication. The Black Women’s Roundtable program, a part of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s get-out-the vote campaign, provided FRRC’s leadership training.

The FRRC is funded by a variety of progressive donors, including Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund Voice and Wellspring Philanthropy as well as the Ford, Marguerite Casey and Threshold Foundations. The San Francisco Foundation – which bundles local donors’ grants – even boasted it funded FRRC’s “fines and fees” campaign in 2020. This is almost certainly referring the coalition’s alleged scheme to buy votes in the run up to the November Presidential election.

What about those who are still in prison? The Campaign Legal Center has a plan to help them too.

CLC was founded in 1990 with funding from Pew Charitable Trusts. Its initial focus was to fight for campaign finance reforms (McCain Feingold), but it expanded its scope over the years to include voter ID laws and felons re-enfranchisement. The Open Society Foundations of George Soros, Ford Foundations, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and the Southern Poverty Law Center are now funding the organization. In 2021 and 2022 cryptocurrency fraudster Sam Bankman Fried also sent $2.5 million in funds to CLC. has refused to return.

In 1974, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals in prison retain their right of vote. It’s important to get them to vote in the first instance. CLC boasts it has provided legal assistance to allied groups who are suing states to help the incarcerated vote from jail (about 750 000 nationwide), by redefining imprisonment as a valid excuse to obtain an absentee or even turn jails into polling stations.

It won a case in 2018 forcing Ohio to let inmates vote via mail in ballot for the midterm election. CLC is also credited with the passage of in Massachusetts, which requires jails “to actively provide education and assistance (to inmates) throughout the voting process,” an act that was vetoed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has signed into law a little more than five months prior to the 2022 midterm elections. In partnership with activists, the District of Columbia designated the jail as a “voter registration agency,” which required staff to “distribute educational information and voter registration forms to jail inmates” and to install a polling station for inmates. Chicago activists promoted similar policies in Cook County, leading to a 40% turnout among county jail inmates.

All Voting Is Local, an offshoot of the extreme left Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, is also tied to the Democracy Alliance through its board members. Hannah Fried, who worked for both the Obama and Clinton presidential campaigns, is the leader behind the Arizona scheme.

All Voting is Local, as in Florida portrays its work in Arizona more as a grassroots crusade than an insider project. The Leadership Council is not the only group that helps the D.C. based group. It also receives support from the Campaign Legal Center and ACLU.

It is not surprising that All Voting is Local launched similar campaigns in 2020 in Georgia, Nevada and Florida to encourage felons and inmates to vote. These states are all battleground states for the Trump and Biden campaigns.

Some groups have campaigns that allow prisoners to vote where they live, not in the state where they are imprisoned. This practice has been called ” prison based gerrymandering” by groups like the NAACP. The argument for stopping it is murky. When the Census Bureau takes a census every 10 years, it counts where people “live and sleep”. For prison inmates, this is their place of imprisonment. The left, whether right or wrong, sees an electoral opportunity by relocating prison inmates’ “home” back to the county and the state where they were originally residing, as that is usually a major Democratic City.

According to the Texas Civil Rights Project and Brennan Center (a spinoff of Cesar Chavez union activism and ACLU), the counties around Houston and Dallas would have “likely” received an extra state house seat if “incarcerated persons were counted in their homes”, at the expense “of largely rural, White communities where prisons and jails are located.” (read: Republican district).

Conservatives should and will debate whether or not felons, who have served their prison time, should be allowed to vote. The criminal justice system in the United States is not perfect.

They should not take their cues on judicial and electoral reforms, from the left.

Politicians are more concerned about power than justice and work at the direction of shadowy interest groups with a dark view for America. The term “civil rights” is a cynical way to increase the Democratic Party’s voter base. It’s not the legacy left by the 1960s civil rights movement. This has been done before, in debates over slavery reparations and gay marriage.

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