When felons pay their debt to society should they also be given back their right to vote?

Do felons forfeit their right to vote forever upon conviction?

What if your candidate could win if he gets the felon vote? 

OBTW - For those people in Reo-Linda: What Is a Felony?

In criminal law, a felony is a category of crimes that are often classified as the most serious types of offenses, and they can be either violent or non-violent. Felonies are typically classified as mala in se crimes. The main characteristic of a felony is that being found guilty of a felony will result in incarceration for at least one year. Also, the imprisonment will be served in a prison facility rather than a county or local jail establishment. Criminal fines may also be imposed for felony charges, often in the amounts of thousands of dollars.

Under traditional common law, felonies were called “true crimes,” and usually included serious offenses such as: homicide, rape, arson, burglary, robbery, larceny, escaping from a prison, and assisting in a felony. Current, state and federal criminal statutes may categorize various other types of crimes as felonies.

PRO Felon Voting

CON Felon Voting

1. Trusting a Felon's Judgment

PRO: "We let ex-convicts marry, reproduce, buy beer, own property and drive. They don't lose their freedom of religion, their right against self-incrimination or their right not to have soldiers quartered in their homes in time of war. But in many places, the assumption is that they can't be trusted to help choose our leaders... If we thought criminals could never be reformed, we wouldn't let them out of prison in the first place."

CON: "We don't let children vote, for instance, or noncitizens, or the mentally incompetent. Why? Because we don't trust them and their judgment...

So the question is, do criminals belong in that category? And I think the answer is clearly yes. People who commit serious crimes have shown that they are not trustworthy."

2. Felon Disenfranchisement and Race

PRO: "In many states, felony disenfranchisement laws are still on the books. And the current scope of these policies is not only too significant to ignore – it is also too unjust to tolerate... 

And although well over a century has passed since post-Reconstruction states used these measures to strip African Americans of their most fundamental rights, the impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable. Throughout America, 2.2 million black citizens – or nearly one in 13 African-American adults – are banned from voting because of these laws. In three states – Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia – that ratio climbs to one in five."



CON: "Upon my election as attorney general, I inherited clemency rules that allowed the vast majority of felons to have their civil rights restored upon the completion of their criminal sentence, without the need to apply and without any mandatory waiting period...

Last week [Florida]... reinstated a requirement that those seeking restoration submit an application and imposed a minimum five-year waiting period…

For those who may suggest that these rule changes have anything to do with race, these assertions are completely unfounded. Justice has nothing to do with race. In a recent case, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals examined the historical record and soundly rejected the argument that Florida's prohibition on felon voting was originally motivated by racial discrimination."

3. Congressional Authority over Voting

PRO: "There are three potential constitutional bases for Congress's authority to enfranchise non-incarcerated offenders for federal elections :

- Congress's supervisory power over federal elections, rooted in Article 1, Sec. 4;

- Congress's enforcement power under Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment, and

- Congress's enforcement power under Section Two of the Fifteenth Amendment."

CON: "Most prominently, the 14th Amendment makes felon voting a state prerogative, not a federal one...

The senators' bill [Count Every Vote Act of 2005], by contrast, tosses out the Constitution and declares in no uncertain terms that felon voting should be a federal issue...

If voters choose to change state laws regarding felons and voting, it's their prerogative. Federalism allows for such state-level experimentation, and it's at the state level where the consequences of new felon-voting laws will best be judged. Congress should let the process play itself out, as the Constitution allows it to."

4. US Voting Rights Act of 1965

PRO: "It is plain to anyone reading the Voting Rights Act that it applies to all 'voting qualification[s].' And it is equally plain that [New York Election Law] § 5-106 [which denies the vote to incarcerated felons and felons on parole] 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.

The duty of a judge is to follow the law, not to question its plain terms. I do not believe that Congress wishes us to disregard the plain language of any statute or to invent exceptions to the statutes it has created. The majority's 'wealth of persuasive evidence' that Congress intended felony disenfranchisement laws to be immune from scrutiny... includes not a single legislator actually saying so. But even if Congress had doubts about the wisdom of subjecting felony disenfranchisement laws to the results test of § 2, I trust that Congress would prefer to make any needed changes itself, rather than have courts do so for it."

CON: "The Court of Appeals (José A. Cabranes, Circuit Judge) concludes that the Voting Rights Act must be construed to not encompass prisoner disenfranchisement provisions such as that of New York because (a) Congress did not intend the Voting Rights Act to cover such provisions and (b) Congress made no clear statement indicating an intent to modify the federal balance by applying the Voting Rights Act to these provisions...

[T]here are persuasive reasons to believe that Congress did not intend to include felon disenfranchisement provisions within the coverage of the Voting Rights Act, and we must therefore look beyond the plain text of the statute in construing the reach of its provisions...

We therefore conclude that [The Voting Rights Act] was not intended to - and thus does not - encompass felon disenfranchisement provisions."

5. Constitutionality

PRO: "The Eighth Amendment 'succinctly prohibits 'excessive' sanctions,' and demands that 'punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to the offense'... Thus, the states that continue to exclude all felons permanently are outliers, both within the United States and in the world." 

CON: "Unlike any other voting qualification, felon disenfranchisement laws are explicitly endorsed by the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.... They are presumptively constitutional. Only a narrow subset of them - those enacted with an invidious, racially discriminatory purpose - is unconstitutional." 

6. Voting While in Prison

PRO: "[T]he argument that allowing prisoners to vote would be costly and impractical is ethically unjustifiable. Similarly, the fact that prisoners lose many freedoms does not imply they should lose all their civil rights.

Denying prisoners the right to vote is likely to undermine respect for the rule of law... Allowing prisoners to vote, by contrast, may strengthen their social ties and commitment to the common good, thus promoting legally responsible participation in civil society."

CON: "[P]rison is meant to be a punishment. A custodial sentence has always resulted in loss of freedom and loss of democratic rights for the duration of a prisoner's sentence. Why change that?...

The main point of a prison sentence is to show the offender and society as a whole that criminal behaviour results in loss of freedom and most of the rights that freedom offers."

7. Automatic Restoration of the Vote

PRO: "I believe that the commission of a crime must have a tough and just consequence... 

I also believe that once an offender has fully paid his debt to society, he deserves a second chance... 

It is a mark of good government to restore felons' rights and provide them the opportunity to succeed and become law-abiding citizens again... 

Therefore, I am amending the criteria used to adjudicate non-violent felons applications for restoration of rights. With these changes, Virginia will have an automatic restoration of rights process..."

CON: "Felons seeking restoration of rights will also be required to demonstrate that they desire and deserve clemency by applying only after they have shown they are willing to abide by the law... 

Restoration of civil rights will not be granted ‘automatically’ for any offenses... 

The Restoration of Civil Rights can be a significant part of the rehabilitation of criminal offenders and can assist them in reentry into society. It is important that this form of clemency be granted in a deliberate, thoughtful manner that prioritizes public safety and creates incentives to avoid criminal activity."

8. Voting Before Fines and Restitution Paid

PRO: "People should not be barred from voting solely because they are unable to pay back their fines, fees and interest. If we truly want people convicted of felonies to re-engage with society, become rehabilitated, and feel a part of a broader community (thus creating incentives not to recidivate) then our State should do everything possible to re-incorporate these individuals into mainstream society. In terms of being a just and even handed society, it is not fair if thousands of people are unable to re-gain their voting rights because they are poor... People who are wealthy or have access to money are able to repay their financial debts and poor people (the vast majority of people who have felony convictions) are not. This is an unjust system."

CON: "We believe a rational basis does exist for the Legislature to deny felons the right to vote until they have completed their entire court-ordered sentences, including payment of criminal penalties, victim's restitution, and legal fees, rather than separating out various sentencing aspects." 

9. Social Contract Theory

PRO: "Despite its initial attractiveness, the use of social contract theory to defend felon disenfranchisement is in fact specious. Under a regime of disenfranchisement, an individual who breaches the social contract continues to be bound by the terms of the contract even after being stripped of the ability to take part in political decisions. However, contract doctrine does not allow an injured party to force the breacher to perform its contractual duties without the injured party performing its own. The contract can be terminated or the injured party can accept the performance, but the injured party cannot simply pick and choose which terms will remain and which will not...

Social contract theory and the objectives of punishment fail to provide a satisfactory explanation for the denial of one of the most fundamental rights to millions of citizens."

CON: "As a policy justification, Locke's social contract theory has withstood the test of time; it served a rationale for the enactment of felon disenfranchisement laws in the past, and remains a compelling argument today.

When someone commits a crime, he commits it not just against the victim, but against our entire society. Protests that time served is enough, and that society should prioritize the rehabilitation and reintegration of felons should fall on deaf ears.

Opponents of disenfranchisement claim that the inability to vote stymies felons' 'remittance into a law-abiding society.' Yet they neglect to explain why the tonic of voting did not curtail felons from committing crimes initially."

10. Felons and Political Party Affiliation

PRO: "[In New York] ex-felons who are registered overwhelmingly register as Democrats. Of those discharge records that match to at least one voter file record, 61.5 percent match only to Democratic voter records. In contrast, 25.5 percent match only to voter records with no affiliation or an affiliation with a minor party, while 9 percent match only to Republican voter records...

...[R]egistered ex-felons in New Mexico tend to be overwhelmingly Democrat: 51.9 percent match to only registered Democrats, 18.9 percent match to only registered Republicans, 21.7 percent match to only individuals registered neither as Democrats nor Republicans, and 7.5 percent match to multiple individuals who affiliate with different parties..."

CON: "We know for a fact that nonunion, blue-collar, Caucasian men vote very disproportionately Republican, and when you look at the felon population in the state of Washington, they are overwhelmingly nonunion, blue-collar, male Caucasians."

 

 

PRO Felon Voting

CON Felon Voting

Resource: http://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000283

 

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Replies to This Discussion

NO!!!

Why not?

I remember reading a news story in the paper. This guys at 19 got into some trouble, first time, he did some time.

 20 to 30 years passed he never got into trouble again. But he applied for a great job, according to Federal Law the States can not re-view crimes that are 7 to 10 years old unless its a serous crime.

 He was turned down for the job, he filed suite and collected a lot of money. But he had to go to court and have his rights re-instated in order to remove the listed crime and to be able to vote.

Yes, people can change, and only the stupidity of this society can keep a person in prison or jail after they get out.

RE - [ Should Felons Have The Right To Vote? ]

No.

Why not?

Simple;...

Felons have not that right,... they are removed from society,... everything regarding society rights are removed, until they reintegrate - if ever - society.

And that for short..

Gosh Daniel, maybe I missed it. In the informative piece to this discussion, I did not see once the idea suggested that institutionalized felons actually serving sentence ought to  be considered eligible to vote.

But to be released into society nessesarily means reintegration. Otherwise I am at risk through the hazard posed to society by an irrational individual,  and in the inheirent status of my inalienable rights being subject to the states approval, which is not their mandate! (because if an ex-felon can be treated so, why wouldnt the state assume it can do the same to the law-abiding?)

Prison is SUPPOSED to be a place you DON'T want to ever return to.  But now....you can have all the education you want for free, you can have any elective surgery, even a sex-change operation at the taxpayer's expense, you can have conjugal visits.  The only thing you can't do is.............LEAVE.  HELL NO they shouldn't be able to vote----that's a PRIVILEGE, not a right.

PROVE IT! You talk the talk, but can you [PROVE] What you just said with [CURRENT] stats?

Prove WHAT?

Your (Out Dated) Allegations that you so 'Confidently' claim.

Everybody knows this. What planet are you on? Mars?

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