Nick Simon: McConnell’s Ace in the Hole — A Reponse to Jonathan Miller’s Daily Beast Column

Nick Simon, the well-respected CEO of Publisher’s Printing in Sheperdsville, Kentucky, has submitted the following response to Jonathan Miller’s column this week in The Daily Beast: “McConnell’s Fancy Farm Monster Comes Back to Haunt Him.”  Enjoy:

If the McConnell-Grimes U.S. Senate race in Kentucky in 2014 turns out to be as close as you think, McConnell has an “ace in the hole.” This is the State Constitutional provision denying felons the right to vote.  The right can only be restored by a formal pardon from the Governor.  This provision was established in the Kentucky State Constitution of 1892 and modified by Section 145 ratified in 1955.  Section 145 was proposed by the General Assembly in 1954 and ratified by the voters in 1955.  To the best of my research, both the 1892 Constitution and Section 145 were enacted with Democrats controlling both the Governor’s mansion and both Houses of the General Assembly.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not keep official records on the number of felons in the state.  But from two websites, the Sentencing Project and Federal Probation, I got estimates that range from 125,000 to 240,000.  Surveys of felons who have the right to vote in other states show they break for the Democratic candidate by 2.5 – 3 to 1 over the Republican candidate.

Kentucky is one of three states (the others are Florida and Virginia) that disbar felons from voting for life.  So let’s say Kentucky had more “normal” state rules – felons could vote after their sentences are completed, including completion of all parole and probation.  Let’s be conservative with the number of felons in the state and take the low figure of 125,000.  Let’s say they only break 2 to 1 Democratic, Kentucky being more conservative than the nation as a whole, so their felons might be a bit more conservative also.  Of these felons, let’s say only 25% register and vote – 25% of 125,000 is 31,250 votes.  They break two-thirds Democratic and one-third Republican 20,834 Democratic votes – 10,416 Republican votes equal a 10,418 net vote margin to the Democratic candidate.

So this 10,418 vote deficit is McConnell’s ace in the hole.  Because of the restriction of the franchise to felons in the state, Allison Lundergan Grimes will start election night with a tally of negative 10,418 votes, versus what she would start out with in one of the 47 other states in the Union (excluding Virginia and Florida).  I did not research the number of felons in the state in 1984, but arguably McConnell’s victory margin of 5,269 votes over Dee Huddleston in 1984 was because of this restriction of the franchise.  So on election night in 2014, if McConnell ekes out a victory of 10,418 votes or less, he needs to send a bottle of bourbon over to State Democratic Headquarters in Frankfort.  For it was voting rules restricting the franchise of felons established by Democrats who will have made his victory possible – McConnell’s 10,418 vote “Ace in the Hole”.


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