The miscreant "felon voter" has been one of the GOP's favorite tropes in recent years. Yesterday's court ruling, however, could leave the party bereft.
If we can't demonize this guy, who can we?
If it's now actually legal for felons to vote--even while in prison--what despised group can the GOP turn to next in order to taint Democratic victories and generally fan paranoia?
As you'll recall, several hundred ex-cons who weren't supposed to vote nonetheless turned in ballots in the 2004 Gregoire-Rossi gubernatorial election, prompting Michelle Malkin to decry "The Felon Swing Vote." There was near-hysteria over the issue, fueled in large part by Dino Rossi's biggest backer, the Building Industry Association of Washington.An exhaustive Seattle Times analysis ultimately found that felon votes did not swing the extremely tight 2004 election to the Democrats--in part because many of these demonized felons likely cast their ballots for Rossi. Times interviews with some of the felons indicated they weren't actively seeking to flout the law. They just didn't realize that under the state's byzantine rules (since loosened), they were prohibited from voting.
More recently, KIRO TV got all up in arms just before the 2008 election about the possibility of former inmates actually participating in our democracy. (Links to that story--which was later shown to be full of inaccuracies--have since been removed.)
So what will all these irate defenders of democracy do, now that it's actually OK for felons to vote? Whose participation in our elections will the GOP get us worried about? Illegal immigrants lazily marking up ballots while they enjoy first-class hospital care in our emergency rooms? Members of the death councils themselves, filling in bubbles with #2 pencils? No doubt the BIAW and their associates are hard at work on this issue.