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Van Hollen Opposes Measure Allowing Felons to Vote


Bill Would Allow Felons Not Incarcerated to Vote Before Their Sentence is Complete


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen offered written testimony today and registered in opposition to AB 353 which, among other proposed changes, would allow felons to vote while not incarcerated and before their sentence is complete.


"Voting by felons diminishes victims, the law and the sentences judges hand down. It erodes a fundamental right reserved for citizens not serving a sentence resulting from a felonious criminal conviction. The collision of voter rights and felons rights, in this matter, is not a pretty picture," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.


Taken from his written testimony, the Attorney General said "As a consequence of the serious nature of a felony, under current law, Wisconsin joins the majority of states in prohibiting a felon who is still serving his or her sentence from voting.  Not only does the deprivation of this significant political liberty serve as punishment, it sends a strong and clear message that strikes at the heart of our democracy: so long as a felon is serving time for undermining the social compact, he or she may not participate in the political process by exercising the right to vote." 


Attorney General Van Hollen wrote of his further concern for potential voter fraud connected with the proposal, increased burdens on the criminal justice system, judges and voting officials and unanswered technical issues of custody status not addressed in the bill.


The bill received a hearing today before the Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts at the State Capitol in Madison.