Michigan Democrats Woo the Felon Vote

by | Dec 25, 2023 | Election Integrity

Gretchen Whitmer’s prison-to-polling place pipeline is a desperate bid to win to keep the flagging Democratic Party alive—and it’s just the start.

Originally published at the American Conservative (Dec. 18, 2023)

You heard it here first: Felons are the future of the Democratic Party, something predicted by the American Conservative in April. Michigan’s irascible Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, adopted the felon-voting measure earlier this month.

Most states strip voting rights from convicted felons, something nearly as old as the republic. Yet in recent years professional activists have launched a string of state campaigns to overturn these laws, first to restore the franchise to ex-felons, then—and this is the controversial bit—to allow criminals to vote from jail, which Democrats assure us is about “expanding our access to democracy” and not at all about winning elections.

(RELATED: The Left Mines For Votes in America’s Prisons)

Michigan just went further. Starting in 2025, felons finishing their sentence will automatically be added to the Wolverine State’s already bloated voter rolls, where 55 counties (of 83) report more registered voters than voting-age residents. 

Reintegrating ex-felons into society is one thing; swelling voter lists in a cynical play to prop up the Democratic Party is quite another. 

The stakes are high. The Sentencing Project, a leftist group responsible for the Michigan law, calculates that there are 4.6 million potential felon voters who could be tapped this way. The Campaign Legal Center, which also lobbies for these laws, boasts that 18 million ex-felons are eligible to vote but fail to cast a ballot. Naturally, the center runs a registration drive targeting them.

And where Activism Inc. goes, there follows the Democratic Party. Felon re-enfranchisement and prison polling places featured in the Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act introduced in August (in which “felon” is mentioned over 20 times) and in last year’s failed John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act

There’s a powerful reason for these efforts, though it’s often underappreciated by conservatives. For roughly 15 years, the left has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into identifying, registering, and turning out new Democrat voters in swing states while the right—which dominated voter registration in the 2000s—has virtually ceased competing altogether. 

That’s not persuading independents of the merit of “progressive” ideas. It’s using statistics to reduce individuals to demographic data points—black, female, unmarried, Millennial, college-educated, urban, etc.—to guess how likely they are to vote for Democrats. 

Democratic operatives pretend they want everyone to vote; in reality, they’re registering the left’s preferred voters and no one else. 

In this, leftists are lightyears ahead of conservatives largely thanks to their monopoly on sensitive data concerning eligible-but-unregistered individuals, piped in via the controversial Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). 

My organization, Restoration News, estimates that the Left has $1.3 billion available each year to fuel these sophisticated registration drives. I would be amazed if the Right had $20 million to register new conservative voters.

Yet these operations demand a great deal of resources even for left-wing megadonors, so “progressive” lobbying groups like the Brennan Center are also angling to pass automatic voter registration laws—like the one in Michigan—in all 50 states. Their reasoning: Why ask partisan donors to pay to register Democrats if taxpayers will foot the bill for them?

Usually, Americans register to vote on their own initiative. Automatic voter registration flips that opt-in system to opt-out, with the ultimate objective of adding everyone with a heartbeat to state voter rolls—instantly and dramatically expanding the pool of registered voters for the left to tap into. 

Put differently, “progressives” have largely given up trying to win over America’s existing electorate—so they’re creating an alternative electorate instead.

(READ MORE: Here’s the Left’s Playbook for Rigging Elections in 2024)

As with ex-felons, the political potential is staggering, with an estimated 77 million eligible-but-unregistered individuals nationwide up for grabs, according to the far-left group Demos. Considering that Joe Biden’s (electoral vote) margin of victory was about 45,000 votes across four key states, that’s a jackpot Democrats cannot afford to miss—and Republicans can no longer ignore.

So don’t be fooled by calls for “justice” from power-hungry ideologues. Instead of feeding their get-out-the-vote machine, let’s build our own.

Hayden Ludwig is research director for Restoration of America, which publishes Restoration News

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