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Felon Voting

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,654 times Debate No: 7870
Debate Rounds (3)
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Five point three million Americans are denied the right to vote, simply because of their criminal records. If these convicts were able to vote it may amount to the difference in who our country's own president may be. It could have a huge impact on the laws that are in affect as well. This is why I stand in firm affirmation of the resolution; Resolved: in a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote. President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Jeremy Travis, stated that, "In more than a dozen states, a convicted felon loses the right to vote-for life. Thirty-two states prohibit offenders on probation or parole from voting." "In states with lifetime bans, the consequences for democratic participation are deeply disturbing."
Before we discuss the topic any farther I would first like to establish and clarify some key definitions and terms.

Democratic:pertaining to or characterized by the principle of political or social equality for all

Society: a highly structured system of human organization for large-scale community living that normally furnishes protection, continuity, security, and a national identity for its members

Felon:one who has committed a felony

Retain:to continue to use, practice

Right to Vote:a legal right guaranteed by the United States Constitution

Contention 1:Convicts and Ex-convicts are treated like any other average citizen in every other aspect of their lives. Felons are expected to follow and obey the laws just the same as you and me. Why should we not give them the right to help choose the leaders they have to follow and vote on the laws that they are expected to obey? If felons are responsible to uphold the standard set by society, they should have the same rights and privileges as others.
Steve Chapman stated, "We let ex-cons 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 home in a time of war. But, the assumption in most places 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."
In some states, Maine and Vermont, felons are allowed to vote even while being incarcerated. How can one justify this being fair to a convict in Missouri. It should be a standard all across the board that everyone's voting rights are treated equally, even a felon's(see Equal Protection Clause, Contention 3). Allowing one felon to vote and not allowing another to is creating a double standard based on location, which has no legitimate effect on voting rights.
Contention 2:Felons are serving or have served the punishment they were sentenced for their crime. A judge is a highly trained professional. They make decisions to determine punishments and consequences accordingly. When they sentence a felon they sentence them to a punishment that is adequate to the crime they committed. There is no reason for society to think of themselves above a felon and impose further regulations. It is not our place to judge others when we ourselves could just as easily be in their place. By denying a felon this right we are demoralizing them and depriving them of their basic human rights. We are alienating them from society. A felon has already been given a punishment for the crime they committed so why should we make them keep suffering for something that happened in the past and was already dealt with? We are taking away the capability for a felon to fix their life and reform into the "average Joe." By doing this we are putting society in a susceptible position.
Contention 3: The right for everybody to vote is protected by the constitution. Amendment VIII of the Constitution states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted." Also according to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, "Congress finds that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is a fundamental right." Contrary to the beliefs of many that voting is a privilege, Congress itself wrote that it is a right that ALL United States citizens have, regardless of any discriminatory factor.
Lastly, there is this little part of the Constitution that is referred to as "The Equal Protection Clause.(Amendment XIV, Section 1)." It states that, "No state shall enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." This makes it clear that any ordinance outlawing a citizen's right to vote is unconstitutional.

The United States was established under the values and morals of our country's founding fathers. As I have shown with my three points of contention, they clearly had the intent of allowing all citizens the right to vote, no matter what the circumstances may have been. Felons, as I stated in my first contention, are expected to follow the same laws. Taking away more basic human rights separates them from society. If citizens expect laws to be followed, everyone needs equal input on the making of these laws. Not only do we need to follow through with the resolution because of the hypocrisy and double-standards involved, but also because it is protected constitutionally. The VIII amendment to the constitution, The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Equal Protection Clause all reference that disenfranchisement is wrong. Also, Making a felon pay for their mistake even after completing their sentencing completely violates my second point of contention. They were given an appropriate sentencing. Taking away the right to vote was not included in it. For the reasons I have stated above I know the affirmative side is the right side. This is why I urge you to return a negative ballot today.
Thank You.


Resolved: In a democratic society felons ought to retain the right to vote
Value: democratic society
Value Criterion: Maximizing political participation

Contention 1: A democratic society can not be legitimate if the people in it are not voting. This is because the definition of democracy dictates that we let every competent adult vote. If we bar felons from voting then we are not truly a democracy.

Contention 2: Furthermore if we continue to disenfranchise felons then not only are we undemocratic but we are also racist. This is because in America the majority of felons tend to be minorities. In fact according to the Department of Justice for every 15,000 felons sentenced to prison 450 were white 1,356 were Hispanic and 3,188 were black. Therefore as one can clearly see felon disenfranchisement excludes a whole class of people from the voting process. As stated in my previous statistic the two major minorities that make up the majorities of felons in America are blacks and Hispanics. Due to this the voices of these two groups of people is not generally heard. So if one were to vote neg. this could in effect lead to the genocide of minorities as their voice would be stifled in the government. This proves that supporting felon disenfranchisement supports racism.

Contention 3: Not only does felon disenfranchisement supports racism but it can change the result of important elections. Blacks and Hispanics generally vote Democratic. As these minorities make up the majorities of felons felon disenfranchisement favors the white dominated Republican party and skews the results of elections. An example of this would be my state of Florida in the 2004 election. If felons had been allowed to vote there is no way that George Bush would have won the presidency. Though Gore had the popular vote Bush had more electoral votes which enabled him to win. However if felons had been allowed to vote Gore would have had not only the popular vote but the electoral votes necessary to win.

Contention 4: Additionally felon disenfranchisement is not truly a punishment. Disallowing felons from voting does nothing correct their behavior or to prevent them from committing a crime again. If anything it further separates them from society. This is injustice for if a man committed a felony in his late teens and is kept from voting from every election each time a new political figure come to power he will have to remember the mistake he made as a teen. He may be a reformed and upstanding member of society yet he will still be unable to vote. For these reason I support the affirmative of this resolution.
Debate Round No. 1


brittany_2010 forfeited this round.


Because my opponent failed to post all my poinst extend through the round.
Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 2


brittany_2010 forfeited this round.


Ok my opponent forfeited again. And her case supported my side so vote for me.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Lazy 8 years ago
Who is for con side?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by moneystacker 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: I personally think they should be allowed to vote since letting someone vote has no direct harm and since most ex-felons are ignorant of politics or the candidates like most Americans, letting them vote would have the same results, but con provided stronger points overall so I gave him conduct more convincing arguments and sources.
Vote Placed by Urania 8 years ago
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Total points awarded:07