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Should Convicted Felons Be Allowed To Vote Essay

Article Info:

Felons Should Not Be Allowed to Vote. At Issue: Are American Elections Fair? Stuart A. Kallen. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006.

The article Felons Should Not Be Allowed to Vote argues that former felons should not have their voting rights restored once they regain their freedom. The author believes felons need to be deprived of their voting rights for life as a symbolic price they have to pay for violating certain social and legal norms. The article is structured in an unusual and, in my opinion, an effective manner. It first presents the arguments of those supporting the idea of re-enfranchising felons, and then provides the author’s reasons not to agree with the idea.

The first part of the article mainly focuses on the idea that the question of whether or not to renew one’s right to vote is strictly political: if felons cannot vote, then voting is no longer representative. In states like Florida, numerous districts with high crime rates would have practically lost their voting power since so many of its citizens have been disenfranchised. Such districts are likely to be populated by a particular ethnic or racial group that has higher crime rates, and therefore, this group would no longer be able to vote for the candidate they would otherwise have supported. Depriving felons of the right to vote for a lifetime means we would no longer have a fair representation of voters of different ethnic groups. This, on the other hand, may directly affect which candidate ultimately gets elected, and later on, what kind of executive decisions might be taken in favor of, or against, certain groups of voters.

However, the author of the article disagrees with this opinion by arguing that there are many other victimized and deprived groups that deserve more attention in advocating their rights than ex-felons. The author claims that if a certain person went on to disobey the law and the social values society generally accepts, he or she deserves never to have the right to vote restored since he or she is not that conscious a citizen in the first place. The author calls this denial of felons’ franchise for life a “debt” they have to pay back to society for harming one, or more, of its members.

I believe the topic being discussed is arguable, and just like how people cannot agree on whether or not the death penalty should be completely abolished, people are likely to disagree about the re-enfranchisement of felons as well. I believe what is important here is to stress that not all people who have ever been convicted of a crime should be treated in the same manner. I think we all will agree that murder, bank robbery, rape, and blackmail are crimes of different categories. In the same way, we do not sentence all felons to the same punishment, we should not talk about all felons as if they are the same. I strongly believe people deserve forgiveness, at least most of them do. While some will argue the right to vote is not quite that important in life, I think it can be a significant symbol of trust. If we trust someone enough to participate in the life of community, we will likely empower that person to justify our trust with their future behavior. At least I hope it is true for most cases.

I would disagree with the author of the article in that I believe that with the exception of felons who committed particularly serious or violent crimes, the majority of those who regain freedom also need to regain the ability to make responsible choices with the rest of the community, and that includes having the right to vote. Otherwise, if we keep reminding ex-felons of their former mistakes, they will never feel like they belong in the community and will forever remain deviants in the eyes of our society, and behave likewise too.

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  • Felons don't deserve the right to vote

    Felons have broken laws, some close to treason. Why do they get the right to vote when all they do is break the law? Felons, once released, do become part of society again, but they broke the law so they shouldn't get to vote for it. Just because they are part of society they still don't need to vote, sure they want their opinion to be heard but they gave up that right when they decided to break the law. They gave up being an American citizen when they broke the law.

  • Criminal scum disregards the concepts of society.

    Allowing them to then participate in shaping it is a disgrace. Pro-convict voting is yet another notion of the liberal lefts crusade to destroy morality. Rapists, murderers, child molestors, drug pushers, and thieves don't even deserve their
    lives let alone the right to change mine. Liberal thugs are just looking for another degenerate group of people to promise things to in exchange for votes no matter the consequences.

  • No

    A felon is any person who has committed a serious crime. Why would any person want a person who committed a serious crime vote for people’s rights and America’s future? If felons don’t respect the law felons don’t care who runs the government. Felons do not care about their society and country to break any of the laws. Also if felons lose their right to vote, then it would make more people commit fewer crimes. Almost every person wants a say to America why would any person want to lose the right by breaking any law?

  • Convicted felons have committed acts that remove them from social norms, and should not be allowed to vote.

    Individuals who commit criminal activities have already removed themselves from social behavior. As such, one of the consequences of committing criminal offenses should be a loss of the ability to participate in government. Though society should find a way to reward true rehabilitation, and provide a means of expungement after a time, convicted felons should not be allowed to participate in democracy.

  • Convicted felons should lose their voting rights, because they are no longer a part of society, once they are convicted.

    By breaking the law felons show disregard for the government and therefore forfeit their right to have a say in it I do not disagree with the fact that some people make mistakes, that people can be reformed, or that felons can become contributing members to society, but I cannot agree with giving them the right to affect the outcome of a government that they willfully ignored; I find it somewhat controversial that they would only take notice of laws when it suits their purpose.

  • By breaking the law felons show disregard for the government and therefore forfeit their right to have a say in it

    I do not disagree with the fact that some people make mistakes, that people can be reformed, or that felons can become contributing members to society, but I cannot agree with giving them the right to affect the outcome of a government that they willfully ignored; I find it somewhat controversial that they would only take notice of laws when it suits their purpose.

  • Convicted felons should lose their voting rights, because they are no longer a part of society, once they are convicted.

    I believe that convicted felons should lose the right to vote because, once they are locked up, they are no longer contributing members of society. I would agree that they should be restored, once they are part of society again, like when they have a job, residence, and are out of jail for at least a year.

  • I do not believe that convicted felons have the right to vote, they lost that right when they committed the crime they did.

    I used to be a police officer and let me tell you that convicted felons really to not deserve the right to vote any more. Why should they be given the same rights that all other law abiding citizens have when they clearly do not have the same morals that law abiding citizens do? So no, they should not be allowed to vote.

  • Convicted felons do not deserve the right to vote, because they have not followed society's rules.

    Voting is a privilege, as is having a drivers license. When people commit crimes, they lose this privilege, since they have demonstrated that they don't follow the rules of society.

  • You are no better than a felon

    @B3rkIffy
    Your comment " It is unfair to allow a felons vote to count as much as any other upstanding citizen" is as ignorant as it gets. If you pay taxes you should have a say in who represents you, whether or not you are a convicted felon. And just because you are a felon doesn't mean you are not "an upstanding citizen". I know a good hard working man on a job site who had to urinate and there were not any porta potties on the site yet. He went behind the house being built to relieve himself. Next door there was a B-day party going on for a 5 year old. To make a long story short he was convicted of exposing himself to minors, a felony, instead of urinating in public, a misdermeanor. He can't own a firearm or vote, totally unfair you self righteous douche.

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