- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Criminal ballots
Democrats since the November election have been actively recruiting felons as a voting bloc or so a new study prepared by Shear Smith Research, a conservative consulting firm, concludes.
"As crucial elections become increasingly more competitive, highly mobilized felons can swing election results," a summary of the report explains. "Although it is largely thought to be just the opposite, felons can vote in a large majority of states, either immediately or soon after leaving prison."
The report, titled "The Virtue Project," proposes ballot initiatives, at least in conservative-leaning states, to pass bans on felon voting. Exploratory committees designed to place the issue on the ballot are already being formed in Ohio, Montana and Oregon, according to the report.
Only 10 states now have laws that provide for lifetime bars on felons voting upon their first conviction. Two more states do so upon a second felony conviction.
"Incredibly, two states allow felons to vote from prison and never take the vote away from them," the report states. "Nevertheless, when given the choice, even Massachusetts voted to end the insult of incarcerated felons voting from a state penitentiary cell block."

Dying to vote
Our in-depth item this week on the legal department of the Democratic National Committee staying busy compiling documented abuses and other instances in which "democracy has been denied" through "voter disenfranchisement that stained Election 2000" prompted Dr. Harry M. Mathis, of Round Rock, Texas, to write:
"I wonder if the 'voting rights of concern to the Democratic National Committee include the right for a dead person to vote Democratic year after year, as they have in Texas, in Missouri and in Chicago?"

Deteriorating state
Its a good thing for George W. Bush — and the rest of the nation — that the Senates reconvened after its annual Easter recess.
Nearing the 100-day mark, an "alarmingly high" number of senior posts in the Bush administration remain unfilled, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson having no confirmed staff as of this week, according to the Brookings Institutions Presidential Appointee Initiative.
Worse yet, in seven Cabinet departments, no top official other than the secretary has even been officially nominated.
As for officials whove been nominated, now 13 weeks into the administration only 29 of Mr. Bushs top 488 executive branch appointments have been confirmed by the Senate, far fewer than previous presidents, including Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.
"No reasonable person can blame the Bush White House for this mess," says Brookings, its Vice President Paul C. Light adding: "The current limbo is hobbling the ability of President Bush to initiate policies to address the issues that face our country."

Longest term
"Talk about your job security," observes National Press Club President Richard Ryan, introducing the nations comptroller general, David Walker, to reporters this week.
While administrations and members of Congress come and go, says the scribes president, Mr. Walker — and the six comptroller generals that came before him — is granted a rare luxury of 15 years to perform his job, the longest term available in federal government.
Mr. Walker was appointed in 1998 by President Clinton, which means he doesnt have to start looking for another job until 2013.
"Thats long after President Bush, and perhaps another president or two have departed the political scene," says Mr. Ryan. "It is one year longer than the term served by members of the Federal Reserve Board, and five years longer than the director of the FBI."
And what does the comptroller general do for so long?
Hes the nations chief certified public accountant and heads the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Worth noting
Amount of additional funding that historically black colleges and universities are to receive under President Bushs budget, according to House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts Jr., a black Republican from Oklahoma: $1.4 billion.

Cruise to home
Its being called the first U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed coastal passenger cruise vessel.
So unique that Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is crossing the Potomac River to the 18th-century seaport of Alexandria today for the christening ceremony of the CV Cape May Light, a 226-passenger American Classic Voyages cruise ship that will provide travelers the opportunity to explore the heritage and personalities of dozens of coastal cities and towns in America, from the early history of Jamestown, Va., to tony Nantucket, Mass.

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