Felons: Democracy and Equal Protection Clause

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Coleman Wahlborg
Richard
English IV, 1A
9 September 2011
Felons and Voting
This year 5.3 million people will be unable to vote not because they are mentally unable, not because they are underage, but because they are felons and ex-felons (Holding, 2006). Ex-felons are people who committed a felony and have served their punishment, dictated by the judiciary system, and are living in the community. When previous convicts are released from prison they are considered citizens again. Being a citizen, one is promised certain rights and responsibilities. As an ex felon one is a free citizen who can exercises the rights and responsibilities granted by the Constitution of the United States of America. Since former felons have earned their rights back shouldn’t this include voting? Whether ex-felons should be able to vote or not is a very popular issue among people. The two sides in the issue can be fairly biased. Some people might know felons that they think should be able to vote and others are on the other side of the argument. However, research says that there are several reasons why ex-felons should and shouldn’t be able to vote.

The Fourteenth Amendment states, “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or the immunities of citizens in the United States.” This law sets forth that citizens have privileges and no one has the right to deprive citizens of these privileges. Current felons are not members of society, but previous felons’ civic rights are restored when they complete their sentence. Denying ex-felons the right to vote abolishes their rights (Krajick, 2004). Only two states allow current felons to vote, and ten states permanently prohibit former felons from voting (Zotti, 2000). This means that people who used poor judgment in the past, paid their debt to society, and were released from jail, are still being punished and shunned from being normal everyday citizens. Prohibiting ex-felon voting is not only a punishment to...
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