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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Kemba Smith Pradia went to Tallahassee, Fla., last week to demand the right to vote.

Back in the ’90s, when she was just Kemba Smith, she became a poster child for the excesses and inanities of the so-called War on Drugs. Pradia, then a college student in Virginia, became involved with, and terrorized by, a man who choked and punched her regularly and viciously. By the impenetrable logic of battered women, she thought it was her fault.

The boyfriend was a drug dealer. Pradia never handled drugs, never used drugs, never sold drugs. But she sometimes carried his gun in her purse. She flew to New York with drug money strapped to her body.

Eventually, she was busted. And this good girl from a good home, who had never been in trouble before, was sentenced to more than 24 years.

In the 12 years since President Bill Clinton commuted her sentence, Pradia has theoretically been a free woman. Except that she cannot vote. Having returned home to Virginia after living awhile in Indiana, she had to apply for the restoration of her voting rights. She is still waiting.

So last week, Pradia, along with actor Charles S. Dutton, joined NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous at Florida’s old state capitol building to launch a campaign demanding restoration of voting rights to former felons.

CNN reports that Florida, Virginia and nine other states embrace what might be called polices of “eternal damnation,” i.e., laws that continue to punish former felons and deny them the vote long after they have done their time, finished their parole, rejoined society.

The state’s former governor, Charlie Crist, had streamlined the process, making voting rights restoration automatic for nonviolent felons. His successor, Rick Scott, reversed that. In Florida, an ex-felon is now required to wait up to seven years before even applying to have his or her voting rights returned.

“Welcome back, Jim Crow” said the headline on a Miami Herald editorial.

Ain’t that the truth. Between policies like these, new restrictions on Sunday and early voting and, of course, Voter ID laws, the NAACP estimates that 23 million Americans stand to be disenfranchised — a disproportionate number of them African-American.

We have seen these shenanigans before: grandfather clauses; poll taxes, literacy tests. Yet African-Americans — heck, Americans in general — seem remarkably quiescent about seeing it all come around again, same old garbage in a different can.

  • Voter intimidation may be the tip of the iceberg. Little things are starting to happen that make me wonder about the civility and values of some of our fellow Americans. I am a Democrat, I support Barack Obama, and I don’t mind making that known. During the last two weeks someone has been driving over my lawn and tearing it up. It may seem like a trivial or unrelated incident, but since this is the first time it happened since I had my house built 11 years ago I really have to wonder if it is so.
    In any case, if I was determined to vote for Obama before this happened, and I am now determined to be in front of the line when the polls open for early voting!

    • BDD1951

      I wonder why republicans became so mean and vicious. My friend went on the local papers blog 4 years ago. Somehow reps found out who she was and where she lived. They picketed in front of her house. She couldn’t do anything because they stayed on public property the sidewalk. They run around stealing our signs out of our yards. What is going on in America that people don’t have a right to free expression. Crazy people stand on the sidewalks on Sunday morning with homemade signs of aborted babies. People going to church are subjected to such profanity. Litltle kids going to church see this. How mean can you get?

    • neece00

      I am sorry to hear about that Dominick although, I understand how difficult it can be to live and work in a RED state. In an office of 20, we only have about 3 that will be voting for Barack and most of my friends are Republicans. For the most part they are respectful but I don’t usually talk politics with anyone because I know I am the minority.

    • BDD1951

      I have already voted by mail. Easy and I know it will be counted. I will be busy on Nov. 6 working as an election judge. First time I’ve done it and I’ll be working in a busy precinct.

    • karinursula

      I live in Arkansas and I’m scared to put a sticker from Obama on my car. I’m 68 and live in an apartment complex and yes I’m scared.

      • Two of my neighbors told me they have not put Obama signs in their yards or stickers in their cars because they are afraid their property would be vandalized.

      • BDD1951

        I haven’t put my sticker on yet, but I’m going to today. I’m lucky enough to be able to put my van in a garage at night. This is So. Texas and you can’t believe the shenanigans that go on.

        • Ed

          Having heard the history, YES I CAN!

      • You are right to be afraid, Here in Tennessee, there was several cases where people would hit cars that had an Obama-Biden sticker. There was one case in Nashville where after President had won the election a 70 year old Republican kept repeatly hitting the rear of a car that had a Obama-Biden sticker on it and besides the driver of the car he kept hitting there was also two small children. The excuse given by the Republican driver,”that sticker made me so d——–mad that I had to keep hitting the car. Didn’t notice the children” I don’t know what if anything was done to the car hitter but that is one of the reasons I don’t a sticker on my car. I am on a fixed income and if the car is totaled by some fool like the 70 year old Republican, I don’t have the money to replace it and the public bus service in my area is terrible. As I have said in my other posts Picture approved state IDs are just another form of a poll tax that poor whites and all blacks had to pay in order to vote. Since neither group had extra money with which to pay the poll tax they were denied their Constitutional right to vote before poll taxes were declared to be Unconstitutional and deny certain groups of people their right to vote.

  • lkreu

    I’m still trying to explain to some people democrats as well as republicans, why voter ID laws are not necessary and are all about voter suppression. They think we need ID for everything why not voting. I try and I try. I live in PA and am THRILLED its been suspended, now we need it repealed.

  • bud2011

    The AP reported on 10/6/12 that voter registration fraud was filed against the Democratic Party. Two groups; the Florida New Majority Education Fund and National Council of La Raza were identified as the groups.
    A research group at the Univ. of Colorado reported they estimate that Romney will will the 2012 election by 300 electoral votes.

    • yeah if he can just keep them black , women, latino,s mexicans, gays and any body with a brain from voteing he might. so who does that leave to vote hmmmm!

  • latebloomingrandma

    Gov. Rick Scott is an incredibly wealthy man, who was the head of a healthcare organization that was convicted of massive Medicare fraud. How he got away from being arrested, as the CEO in charge, is beyond me. Did money, somehow, do the talking? If he would have been rightly held accountable, then he, too, would be a felon unable to vote in his own state. As I said in a previous post, the plutocracy is coming.

  • Voter suppression tactics will not work. The Republicans should be exposed. Woe unto the GOP.

  • Ed Mays

    yeah, yeah, yeah…you do the crime and you wait for 7 years after your release back to society…so what`s the complaint you liberals that are bringing our country to its knees??


  • quasm

    Mr. Pitts; So Ms. Pradia, a convicted felon whose activities as you describe indicate abetted drug dealers, cannot vote. Boo Hoo.

    Dik Thurston;
    Colorado Springs

  • William Deutschlander

    Have you taken note?

  • Welcome back to the 1950s and the Blacklist. Republican controlled legislatures are determined to do whatever they can to cause the ostracization of any person who may have the audacity to vote for a Democrat. As for those who claim God is on their side, I will find it amusing if they go to the Pearly Gates and meet St. Peter proudly wearing his buttons in support of Roosevelt, Truman, Stevenson, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, McGovern (everyone is allowed one mistake), Carter (ok, maybe two), Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama, and have him point to the elevator with only a “Down” button with a sign “Republicans private entrance”.

  • Peoples425

    What truly is the mind boggling idiocy of the matter is that the true fraud of voting is the absentee voting that would have a larger effect upon the actual process than in person voting fraud. If many of the “conservatives” and/or republicans were to use some common sense, they would realize that in person voter fraud is immensely futile in it’s attempt make any difference in the election. It truly is a desperate attempt to reduce the efficacy of the minority populations influence on the voting process. What makes this all the more obvious at racial and socio-economic dog whistling from the republican party are the hostilities and generalizations coming from the people that listen to the irrationality of wild accusations of the GOP supporters and advocators.

  • onedonewong

    All I can say is TOUGH