Katharine Mieszkowski writes on Salon.com: When Koren Carbuccia went to prison for the second time, her son, Vaskan, was just 3 months old. Being incarcerated during the earliest years of his life changed hers. She wanted nothing more than to be home with him. ...
Carbuccia won an early release in February 2005. Today, at 27, she is a student at Community College of Rhode Island, studying substance abuse counseling, and working toward a master's degree. While going to school and caring for her son, she also works 20 hours a week doing data entry at the Family Life Center in Providence, which provides assistance for ex-offenders and their families. Recently, she took Vaskan, now almost 5, to his first day of preschool. "I want to do the right thing," says Carbuccia, who describes herself as a PTA mom. "I want to be responsible and raise my child. "
But there's one way Carbuccia isn't like other moms, and as the law in Rhode Island now stands, won't be until 2017. Only then, when she's completed both parole and probation, will she be allowed to vote. Until she's 38 years old, she'll be a second-class citizen, working, parenting, studying, paying taxes, but unable to cast a ballot. In a state of just 1 million, she's one of more than 15,000 disenfranchised voters because of prior felonies.
Across the U.S., nearly 4 million people with felony convictions, who are out of prison, have no say in their own government, and won't be going to the polls on Nov. 7. Their lost votes could make a decisive difference in close Senate and House races this fall, especially in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia, where, unlike most states, felons, even after serving their time, never regain the right to vote. Among the races that could be affected are Virginia Sen. George Allen's attempt to retain his Senate seat, despite his recently exposed history of using racial slurs, and the House race for Kentucky District 3, where polls now show Republican Anne Northup essentially tied in her attempts to keep her seat from challenger Democrat John Yarmuth.
Sociologists who have long studied the disenfranchisement of felons say that the lost votes amount to a built-in advantage for Republicans, seen most famously in the 2000 presidential race in Florida, in which Al Gore would have likely beat George W. Bush had ex-felons been allowed to vote. -- Barred from voting | Salon News