Voter Registration: our rights and the real time consequences of our penal system

Dorothea Mordan
8 min readFeb 10, 2020

A two part essay on re-entering society and reclaiming rights.

Reclaiming the right to vote

It is said that there are only so many plots, no truly new stories.

The parable of saving one starfish is the age old story of the underdog.

You know, the one about a child on a beach filled with starfish, washed up, dying. As she’s throwing one back into the ocean a grown up passing by asks “Why bother, they’re all going to die?”

“It matters to this one” she says as she tosses a starfish back to where it can survive.

Is the underdog the starfish or the little girl? We Americans are a nation of underdogs, trying to use the better angels of our nature to overcome the destructive aspects of our human nature.

There are real people languishing in our society, the forgotten, the out-of-sight, out-of-mind segment of society. They matter, they are part of us.

In our American society we have many rights and privileges to which we cling, in our beliefs and our actions. We vote, move about our land freely, speak our mind at will. Lot’s of things are easy once we know how to do them. After that it’s pretty hard to remember how we got the ability.

Voting rights are a great example — we Americans are born with them; all we have to do is grow up to the age of majority and use them. We don’t have to remember that anyone fought and died for them, or marched against the made up reasons given for some groups not to have them, or that America has been divided in many ways over her history. We don’t have to remember that plenty of people may not like any of us individually but they don’t have the right to take our rights. Until they do.

We can lose voting rights, specifically by being convicted of a felony; more generally by committing moral turpitude (the government’s power to determine the definition of morality). We have a system, but real people living life (with or without mistakes) are subject to the equally real people running the system, and are not always protected by the real rules.

This is the story of John, who admitted to an accusation that, while he was serving a 20 year sentence in state prison, was…

Dorothea Mordan

Stories about life in our United States & on our planet.