If political insiders ever want to know why so much of the public cares so little for the machinations of our current system, you could do worse than point to the tortured path of the “restore the vote” bill currently before the Minnesota Legislature. On one side of the issue, you have Rep. Tony Cornish, a lawman and gun rights advocate who represents Vernon Center in the Minnesota House and co-author of the bill, which would restore voting rights to felons who have completed their time behind bars but are still on probationary status. On the other side of the issue? Also Rep. Tony Cornish — the one who’s the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee and who refuses to let his committee hear the bill he helped write. Ah, politics.
“I always carry controversial bills … but I don’t ever want to jam them down the throats of people I serve with,” he said, by which he means fellow Republicans. “I hate to put people on the spot.”
Cornish says the “restore the vote” bill, which seemed to have so much steam in the opening days of the session, isn’t going anywhere this session. Not surprisingly, the two-faced handling of a bill that seems to have considerable support among both Democrats and Republicans is leaving supporters of the measure surprised, mystified and disgusted.
“You think you’re doing everything right,” said Mark Haase, the co-chairman of the Restore the Vote coalition. “You get all these different groups on board. You get support from both parties and then you hear, ‘We’re going to do it.’ What the hell?”