The head of Florida's Republican Party is invoking ancient Greece and Rome to justify a new effort to make it harder for felons who have served their time to vote.
"Criminals not being able to vote goes back to the Romans and the Greeks," Florida GOP chair Lenny Curry said on Hardball Wednesday.
Under Republican governor Rick Scott, Florida is imposing a mandatory waiting period during which felons must demonstrate that they deserve to have their voting rights restored. Several other states have launched similar initiatives lately.
Along with Florida's purge of voter rolls and the rash of voter I.D. laws—which Attorney General Eric Holder recently referred to as a "poll tax"—it's hard not to see the efforts as intended to make it harder for minorities, who lean Democratic, to vote.
"It is an attempt at disenfranchisement," The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson said. He continued:
There's a fundamental question here: Have you paid your debt to society or not? And if you have, then there should be no process, there should be no lengthy form that you have to fill out. you should not have to go in front of a board. Because, again, that's what we have punishments for. And once the punishment is done, it's done.You've paid your debt and you ought to be able to have the full rights of citizenship.
It's also worth noting that the Greeks and Romans might not offer the best guide to 21st century policy-making, unless the GOP wants to endorse the idea of petty criminals should be fed to the lions for the amusement of the public. Come to think of it...