With anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 new votes available, the Obama campaign ran a "You can Vote Too!" registration drive for ex-felons. And since Obama won Florida by barely 200,000 votes, the newly enfranchised murderers, rapists and pedophiles no doubt did their share to help put him in the White House.
Iowa restored felon voting in 2005, and between 2004 to 2008, swung from Republican to Democratic.
In 2007 Colorado struck down the requirement that ex-felons have to at least complete their parole before becoming eligible to vote, overriding a Colorado Supreme Court ruling. In 2008 Colorado voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate for the first time in 26 years.
Virginia, which also began legalizing felon voters, became another swing state that swung unexpectedly to Obama.
While legalizing felons alone did not swing any of these states, they were part of a larger program to liberalize the voting base, which is why such laws were invariably championed by Democrats and Liberal Republicans. Bringing in millions of new votes changes the game. And that was what happened in 2008.
However giving criminals voting rights on a state by state level has been a long slow process, and that is where the second method comes in, to strike down any bans on felon voting at the Federal level.
The key argument used by felon voting advocates is that barring criminals from voting is a form of racial discrimination, since a disproportionate number of convicted felons are black or members of other minority groups. This brings in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into the picture. Using the VRA, the Supreme Court could potentially strike down any state laws banning criminals from voting. Even convicts still in jail.
This would immediately unlock that golden box of 5 million votes for Obama, even more than local state measures of ACORN's voting fraud, which relied heavily on ex-cons, did.
And the Voting Rights Act is where Judge Sotomayor comes into the picture. While the Supreme Court currently has not chosen to hear any cases involving felon voting, allowing state circuit courts to maintain the ban, Judge Sotomayor is an enthusiastic judicial advocate of applying the VRA to felon voting, treating criminals as a discriminated against group being denied their civic rights.
In Hayden vs Pataki, a case brought by Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, who stabbed a sanitation worker to death, and has since become a campaigner for letting felons vote, Judge Sotomayor dissented from the majority by arguing that the VRA in no way excludes or was meant to exclude felons.
SOTOMAYOR, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
"It is plain to anyone reading the Voting Rights Act that it applies to all “voting
qualification[s].” And it is equally plain that § 5-106 disqualifies a group of people from voting. These two propositions should constitute the entirety of our analysis. Section 2 of the Act by its unambiguous terms subjects felony disenfranchisement and all other voting qualifications to its coverage.
What that means is that Sotomayor believes that any voting qualification, including bans on having convicted murderers and rapists vote, is a violation of the Voting Rights Acts. Felons can be treated as a "group" that has been discriminated against by being banned from the right to vote.
This would allow Obama to "crack" more conservative states where felon voting enfranchisement has not made any headway, by treating felon disenfranchisement as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
By nominating Sotomayor, Obama is very clearly looking ahead to 2012, by first nominating an Hispanic Woman, secondly a left wing judicial advocate, more specifically one whose views on ballot access will help open up that golden box of millions of votes, and in the case of a Bush vs Gore type Supreme Court case, will always argue on the side of inadequate access.
And of course Sotomayor's ruling in Ford vs McGinnis that Islamic rights for prisoners can be entirely at the whim of the prisoner, can't hurt. Nor her open position that her job is to make policy, rather than rule on the constitutionality of the laws.
Like Obama her nomination is being treated as a "historical nomination", though Justice Benjamin Cardozo was arguably the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice (who naturally doesn't count because he's Jewish), and her judicial advocacy views, her identity politics, will be treated as assets, in the same way that they were for Obama.
But the bigger picture is that Sotomayor is meant to be Obama's ace in the hole for the 2012 election.