ex-felons voting rights

Topics: Democracy, Felony disenfranchisement, Felony Pages: 9 (2047 words) Published: September 21, 2014


Diana Zorchenko
February 18, 2014
Should Ex-Felon’s be allowed to Vote?
POLS 301
Spring 2014

Brief Summary
An estimated 5.85 million people (as of 2010) with a felony conviction are barred from voting in elections which is a condition known as disenfranchisement. Each state has its own laws on disenfranchisement. While Vermont and Maine allow felons to vote while in prison, nine other states permanently restrict certain felons from voting. Proponents of felon re-enfranchisement say that felons who have paid their debt to society by completing their sentences should have all of their rights and privileges restored. They argue that efforts to block ex-felons from voting are unfair, undemocratic, and politically or racially motivated. Opponents say felon voting restrictions are consistent with other voting limitations such as age, residency, sanity, etc., and other felon restrictions such as no guns for violent offenders and no sex offenders near schools. They say that convicted felons have demonstrated poor judgment and should not be trusted with a vote.

There is a lot of debate going on about weather ex-felon’s should have the right to vote or not. Some people say that there is nothing wrong with voting, everyone should have the right to do it. Voting is just giving your opinion. In the United States people are allowed to state their opinion. Just because someone does something wrong it doesn't mean they should not be allowed to vote. Felons are still affected by laws made by politicians. Laws could be made about the court system or anything else that might have an impact on their lives. Since they are still a part of our democratic society, it would be wrong to take away the right to choose the people affecting them. While others disagree by stating that there is a reason why they are behind bars in the first place. They made the wrong choices in their own life. If they can't handle to make good judgments in everyday life, then why should we trust them to make a decision that effects all of America? They lost that privilege when they committed the crime, plain and simple. They made the decision to commit a felony, which proves they are incapable of making good decisions for society. They know what crime they are committing, and if they do not know what crime they are committing that is bad luck. Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to the law. In my personal opinion, I would have to say that I disagree on ex-felon’s to vote. I also believe that convicted felons are in prison for a reason. They committed a crime that was of a serious nature, whether it be robbing a bank, killing someone, raping someone, grand theft auto, etc. They did not make a level-headed decision and ended up in jail. We do not need these type of people voting for the people that run our country. They obviously could not make a decision governing their own lives, so we should definitely not allow them to make those kind of decisions for the rest of us. Although the other part of the debate makes sense as well and we should be forgiving and giving the ex-felon’s another chance, I still think that what has been done cannot be taken away. I believe that if a person committed some kind of crime, there is a big chance that they will do it again. Even though I know a few people who changed their lives completely after they committed a felony, most of them return to their regular life style after some time. In order for a person to change completely, it must first start in their mind; they must change the way they think, and then their actions will be changing as well. There is also another side about allowing ex-felon’s to vote. Some felons do change their lives sincerely. In that case, I believe that it is not fair to not allow them to vote, since they have truly changed and have become a new person. If that is the case, I do think that they should vote, but then we can never know who really changed and who is just...

Cited: Hill, Steven.  Ten Steps to Repair American Democracy: An Owner 's Manual for Concerned Citizens.  Sausalito: PoliPointPress, 2006.
Marc Mauer, MSW Winter 2004 article "Felony Disenfranchisement: A Policy Whose Time Has Passed?" Winters Article, 2004
Bill McCollum, JD, "Felons Right to Vote" and article "McCollum: Be Responsible about Felons ' Rights, Apr. 1, 2007
Nichols, John. The Nation Voting and the Fight for Democracy: The Battle for Congress. New York, 2012
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