Should Felons be Allowed to Vote?
About 5.26 million people with a felony conviction are not allowed to vote in elections. Each state has its own laws on disenfranchisement. Nine states in America permanently restrict felons from voting while Vermont and Maine allow felons to vote while in prison. Proponents of felon re-enfranchisement believe 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 of felon voting say the restrictions are consistent with other voting limitations such as age, residency, mental capacity, and other felon restrictions such as no guns for violent offenders. They say that convicted felons have demonstrated poor judgment and should not be trusted with a vote. I believe convicted felons should be allowed to vote upon release from prison because they exercise good judgment; in addition, withholding their right to vote would be a violation of the US Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the eighth amendment. One reason ex-felons are not allowed to vote is because of their perceived judgment. According to Roger Clegg, President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, we don’t let children, noncitizens, or the mentally incompetent vote because we do not trust them or their judgment. Furthermore, he believes that criminals belong in this category because people who commit serious crimes have shown that they are not trustworthy. On the other hand, Steve Chapman, Columnist and Editorial Writer at the Chicago Tribune, believes we let ex-convicts marry, reproduce, buy beer, own property, and drive. They don’t lose their freedom of religion, Wilson 2
or their right against self-incrimination, but in many places, the assumption is that they cannot be trusted to help choose our leaders. The purpose of a prison is to protect society and...
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