Be Careful When You Vote, You Never Know When the Rules Will Change

Voting can be a dangerous activity. Not only are the chances of dying on the way to the polling place greater than actually changing anything with your vote but the rules can chance at a moment’s notice. Take this woman for example, she was convicted of a nonviolent drug offense. She was told that her voting privileges would be restored after she served her probation. But then the rules changed in 2011 and she faced the possibility of more time in a cage:

Two months after I cast my ballot as a civics lesson for my daughter, the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation agents parked across the street from my house, questioned me, and eventually arrested me and charged me with voter fraud.

Let me explain: When I was convicted on a nonviolent drug charge in 2008, my defense attorney told me that once I served my probation, I would regain my right to vote automatically – correct information at the time. But Gov. Terry Branstad suddenly changed the rules in 2011, and now all citizens with a felony conviction lose their voting rights for life. Our Secretary of State Matt Schultz, in fact, has made this subversion of democracy a point of pride. He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hunting down and prosecuting people with past convictions who unknowingly registered or cast a vote.

Luckily for her the jury utilized its right of nullification and acquitted her. But they very well could have convicted her. So the moral of the story is that the rules of voting (and anything involved the state in general) are made up and what you’ve been told by a defense attorney doesn’t matter.