Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, along with his ally Kris Kobach , secretary of state of Kansas, won a big voter suppression victory last week when a federal court ruled that the two states can require their residents to present extra documentation of citizenship to vote in federal elections.
In an interview late last week, Horne and former Arizona congressman J.D. Hayworth (now a NewsMax host) delved into another voter suppression topic: the long-term or permanent disenfranchisement of people who have served time for felonies.
And they found it hilarious:
The two got on the topic when Hayworth’s fellow Newsmax host asked Horne about a recent case in Iowa in which a jury acquitted a woman with a prior felony drug conviction didn’t know she had lost her right to vote.
Horne joked that if voting rights are restored to ex-offenders, “I can just picture politicians appealing to the convicted felons’ vote by saying that they’ll legalize bank robbery or whatever.”
Hayworth agreed: “The politician in me suddenly thinks that in a felon-eligible society, no one can run for attorney general and say, ‘I’m tough on crime,’ because that would be counter-productive with the felon vote.”
Arizona is one of ten states that permanently bars at least some people with felony convictions from voting. Because of harsh penalties for drug crimes and racial sentencing disparities , such laws disproportionately affect African Americans; the Sentencing Project estimates that such laws have made 1 of every 13 African Americans ineligible to vote.
A growing bipartisan movement – including President Obama, Sen. Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell – has sought to restore voting rights to people who have served their time for felony convictions.