9/18/2008, 6:22 p.m. CDT
By JAY REEVES
The Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Prisons Commissioner Richard Allen stopped a voter registration drive for inmates Thursday under pressure from the Alabama Republican Party.
In a letter to state Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard, Allen said individuals conducting the program "were not doing anything for the inmates that they could not do themselves by simply contacting the Secretary of State's Office for the voter registration postcard."
Still, Allen said he decided to stop the drive because of a section in the state code that prohibits using state-owned property to promote or advance candidates for election.
"While it is not clear that assisting voters to register would violate those provisions, I cannot expose departmental employees to that possibility," he wrote.
The problem with this flimsy excuse is that no candidate was being promoted. All we were doing was registering those in jail who are eligible to vote UNDER STATE LAW. No one was supporting McCain or Obama. No names were mentioned during the registration. However, as I mentioned before most of those in jail or prison for drug charges are black despite the fact that blacks and whites use drugs at the same rate and the Republicans know this. Hell, they are largely responsible for this. How convenient the drug war is for marginalizing certain classes of people for political gain.
I won't be hard on Commissioner Allen because deep down in my heart of hearts I know that he was told to stop and he had to follow orders.
Allen's letter to Hubbard was in response to one the chairman e-mailed him earlier in the day, saying the GOP supports the idea of registering more people to vote, but not when it comes to prisoners.
"Furthermore, I have concerns about potential issues with how this effort is being monitored to ensure no form of voter fraud occurs," wrote Hubbard, who is also minority leader of the Alabama House, which votes on the prison system's budget.
Let me translate this Alabama Republican-ese for you. Mike Hubbard essentially said, "Quit allowing them niggers to register to vote or I will cut your prison budget." This is no different that George C. Wallace standing in the school house door. No different at all. Since Alabama has horrible problems financing our bloated prison system Commissioner Allen could not afford to lose money because then he would be hit with more human right's lawsuits from the many, many groups who currently have an eye on Alabama.
But, you know what? The Republicans are just doing damage control. We had almost an entire week in and out of Alabama jails and prisons registering people to vote. So, we had to stop on the last day. So what? Since there is little excitement and even fewer positive moments in the life of a prisoner you can bet that word of this has already spread like wild fire and that anyone currently in jail or prison who thinks they might be eligible to vote will request a form to vote in the November election. There is no stopping this, despite all the blow hardin' being done by the Republican party who has NO SHAME when it comes to trying to suppress legal voters in the state of Alabama. I'd bet right now that inmates are on the phone to Mama asking her to get a voter registration form from the SoS and mail it to them. I'll be sending a number of them out to folks I know who are currently in jail or prison along with a note asking them to get others to join in. I hope you will too.