The Instigator
kasmic
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
PatulousDescry
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Felons should have voting rights in the modern U.S.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
kasmic
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/16/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,174 times Debate No: 67084
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (26)
Votes (3)

 

kasmic

Pro

Felons should have voting rights in the modern U.S.

A: Clarification/Context

So as to be as clear as possible. I am arguing that so called Felons should retain the right to vote in spite of being felons. Below is some basic information on the current circumstance in regard to the debate topic.

The idea of taking away a criminal's right to vote has been around since ancient Greece and Rome. A condition called "civil death" in Europe involved the forfeiture of property, the loss of the right to appear in court, and a prohibition on entering into contracts, as well as the loss of voting rights. Civil death was brought to America by English colonists, but most aspects of it were eventually abolished, leaving only felon disenfranchisement intact in some parts of modern America.”(1)

“5.3 million Americans (1 in 40 adults) were unable to vote due to a felony conviction in the 2008 elections. This included 1.4 million African-American men, more than 676,000 women, and 2.1 million ex-offenders who have completed their sentences. “(1)

“State approaches to felon disenfranchisement vary tremendously. In Maine and Vermont, felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are incarcerated. In Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia, felons and ex-felons permanently lose their right to vote, without a pardon from the governor. Virginia and Florida have supplementary programs which facilitate gubernatorial pardons. The remaining 45 states have 45 different approaches to the issue.

  • In 38 states and the District of Columbia, most ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon the completion of their sentence.
  • In some states, ex-felons must wait for a certain period of time after the completion of their sentence before rights can be restored.
  • In some states, an ex-felon must apply to have voting rights restored.”(1)
B: Burden of proof

As I am proposing the change to the status quo, I accept the burden of proof. I must affirm the resolution.

C: Debate Format

4 rounds/6,000 characters/72 hrs.
1st round: acceptance
2nd and 3rd rounds: Arguments and rebuttals
4th round: Final rebuttal and closing statements (No new arguments)

(1)http://www.ncsl.org...
PatulousDescry

Con

I must make clear that my position is in favor of the status quo. I may disagree states that I do not live in but I accept their decisions and the shared federal government that results from our individual election systems. If I understand what you just posted it seems as if you would like all felons to have the right vote including the ones who have not yet finished serving their sentences. You also seem to think that Felons in America only lose their right to vote. They lose other rights also. I say leave the states alone and keep to your own business in your own state. Freedom, liberty and self determination are always a better course than Totalitarianism.
Debate Round No. 1
kasmic

Pro

Thank you PatulousDescry for accepting this debate and good luck!

Con says “If I understand what you just posted it seems as if you would like all felons to have the right vote including the ones who have not yet finished serving their sentences.”

Yes, that is the case.

Con says “You also seem to think that Felons in America only lose their right to vote.”

That is not what I think at all, just not relevant to the debate topic at hand. Let’s not start this off with a straw man fallacy....

Con says “Freedom, liberty and self determination are always a better course than Totalitarianism.”

I agree which is why I am in favor of the resolution.

Arguments:

We live in a society that accepts the notion of unalienable rights. As a society we accept that the main duty of a government is to secure such rights. Such a government receives their power from the consent of the governed. In our society this is done through voting.

A: Unalienable Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Declaration of Independence)

Unalienable: “impossible to take away or give up” (1)

We live in a society that accepts the concept that some rights are unalienable

B: The Duty of Government

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men” (Declaration of Independence)

“Locke believed that natural rights were inalienable, and that the rule of God therefore superseded government authority;” (2)

We live in a society that requires of its government the protection and security of such rights

C: The Power of the People

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”(Declaration of Independence)

“Rousseau believed that democracy (self-rule) was the best way of ensuring the general welfare while maintaining individual freedom under the rule of law.”(2)

We live in a society that dictates that the power of government come from the consent of the governed.

D: The whole picture

We live in a society that accepts…

1: All people born equal with rights
2: Government’s function is to secure unalienable rights
3: Government receives power through the consent of the governed via voting

What happens when we take away the right to vote?

1: Government cannot receive power through consent of the governed if the governed cannot vote.
2: Without consent or power the government cannot secure unalienable rights

Conclusion:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”( Declaration of Independence)

If the right to vote is taken away, our entire system of government cannot live up to its primary purpose. In the interest of our government filling its purpose, or in other words, securing the unalienable rights afforded to all men, it is only reasonable to conclude that Felons should have voting rights in the modern U.S.

(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...

PatulousDescry

Con

I can hardly believe anyone would make the argument that they would want violent psychopaths and organized crime members to be casting votes from inside of the penitentiary. If I lived in a community that had a prison inside its borders I would be very upset if the federal government forced us to allow these prisoners to vote for our town council, Mayor, School board etc... Once again leave communities to make these decisions. I can accept what you and your peers want. I can not accept you meddling in my community and forcing us to bend to your totalitarian will. Mind your own business. Not every community will have the same wants as yours.

The Declaration of Independence is not a carefully thought out law but a cry for freedom from an oppressive centralized government. Your proposal here is to have a centralized government make a law to force states to act against our own will. Laws are violent things. They are enforced in brutal ways. Just ask Eric Garner. He was arrested on suspicion of breaking law implemented by progressives. You also propose to have this law implemented and enforced by a centralized government with almost zero representation. I can say "Zero Representation" because cause a ratio of representative to constituent is a million to one. That ridiculous ratio does not make a "Representative Democracy".

We designate an act a crime because it is injurious to public welfare. If you look at all such crimes you will find that someone is a victim and that victim has been deprived of their Human Rights. Their right to pursue life liberty and happiness. I see no problem in denying these offensive criminal their rights. We deny inside traders access to the markets. Child molesters are denied privacy. Computer criminals are denied the use of the Internet. All are denied the use of weapons for self-defense. These decisions, as clearly prescribed in The Constitution of the United States of America, are left to the states.

You ask "What happens when we take away the right to vote?" No one here wants to take away the right to vote. The vast majority of us do not commit acts that deny others their human rights. We keep our right to vote as it should be.
Debate Round No. 2
kasmic

Pro

Rebuttal:

Con says “I can hardly believe anyone would make the argument that they would want violent psychopaths and organized crime members to be casting votes from inside of the penitentiary.”

It is not that I want or desire that psychopaths to vote, that would be irrelevant. The fact is that they should retain that right, otherwise they are victims of tyranny. Such would be a violation of the founding principles of this nation.

Con says “I can accept what you and your peers want. I can not accept you meddling in my community and forcing us to bend to your totalitarian will. Mind your own business. Not every community will have the same wants as yours.”

Again, this is not about what I want, rather about what is right. Taking away someone’s ability to have a say in how they are governed is the totalitarian path. You may not want to have felons vote, I accept that is your view but, as you said it…. perhaps you should mind your own business and not force others to bend to your totalitarian will.

Con says “The Declaration of Independence is not a carefully thought out law but a cry for freedom from an oppressive centralized government.”

While I agree that the Declaration of Independence is not a law, it was very well thought out. It was a cry for freedom from an oppressive government. Much of the grievance was a lack of representation in that oppressive government. Is this not a synonymous example for those who have their right to vote tyrannically taken from them.

Con says “The Declaration of Independence is not a carefully thought out law but a cry for freedom from an oppressive centralized government. Your proposal here is to have a centralized government make a law to force states to act against our own will. Laws are violent things.”

My opponent seems intent at straw manning my position. Rather, my position is that such a law that retained felon’s right to vote would curtail rule of the mob, or tyranny of the majority. Thus preserving freedom is on the side of voting rights, and totalitarian side is restricting such a vote.

Con says “We designate an act a crime because it is injurious to public welfare. If you look at all such crimes you will find that someone is a victim and that victim has been deprived of their Human Rights. Their right to pursue life liberty and happiness. I see no problem in denying these offensive criminal their rights.”

Again, my opponent’s arguments miss the mark. I certainly believe that when a crime is committed that action should be taken to preserve the liberty of others, often resulting in imprisonment and other actions. My issue is not in punishing crime, it rests solely on the right to vote.

Con says “We deny inside traders access to the markets. Child molesters are denied privacy. Computer criminals are denied the use of the Internet. All are denied the use of weapons for self-defense. These decisions, as clearly prescribed in The Constitution of the United States of America, are left to the states.”

Each are great example of how freedom is preserved by the action taken. How does taking a Felon’s right to vote protect other’s freedom. In the U.S. there are 5.58 Million Felons who are limited in voting rights. (1) There are 207.5 Million eligible voters. Giving felons the right to vote would hardly create a problem as it is would amount to 2% of the voter pool.

Add that fact to con's view that we have "Zero Representation because cause a ratio of representative to constituent is a million to one. That ridiculous ratio does not make a "Representative Democracy".”

As Con seems to think voting abilities negligible due to numbers, as well as numbers show the minority that is felons in this nation, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no danger or freedom to be lost by allowing felons to vote. The only loss of freedom would result in taking away the right to vote from the felons themselves.

Extended arguments:

If the right to vote is taken away, our entire system of government cannot live up to its primary purpose. In the interest of our government filling its purpose, or in other words, securing the unalienable rights afforded to all men, it is only reasonable to conclude that Felons should have voting rights in the modern U.S.

I noticed on con’s profile that he has the following quote…

"I may not agree with what you have to say but i will fight to the death for your right to say it"


This nicely demonstrates the underlying principle. Regardless of our personal feelings of felon’s views, there is no loss in freedom or danger in allowing them to vote. Therefore it is their right that they should vote, and such a right should be protected from the tyranny of the majority.

(1)http://sentencingproject.org...

PatulousDescry

Con

You say "when a crime is committed that action should be taken to preserve the liberty of others" and ask "How does taking a Felon"s right to vote protect other"s freedom?" Because voting is a civic duty necessary for a healthy society and criminals are anti-social with little care for civility. If you prove yourself to be uncivilized and anti-social to the extent that you need to be caged like a wild animal you have proved that your opinion regarding the welfare of society is malignant.

"I may not agree with what you have to say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it"
One of my favorite quotes. Beautiful. I never thought I would have to explain that malignant speech is crime. You are not allowed to say "Go Loot Ferguson". These exemptions are obvious just as offenders of human rights with good reason get taken out of society and out of the process of governance.

Yes I said ..."We have Zero Representation because our ratio of representative to constituent is a million to one. That ridiculous ratio does not make a "Representative Democracy"...but I must not be very clear you failed to understand my point. My point is that congress is not measurably a democracy. You want an entity that is not a democracy to decide who governs my child's future. You want this non democratic body to give nefarious people power to make decisions on how this nation will be structured to receive my children as they transform into adults. I want the best for all of our children. Whereas you and a Non-democratic institution wish to give nefarious people, people so terrible that they would injure and or kill our children to serve their selfish depravity,you would give them a part in deciding the path of our children's lives. If you are in favor of Democracy you will leave these decisions to the states as prescribed in the constitution.

You complain that minorities are disproportionately affected. I agree that is a problem but the problem is for another debate. That debate is about the failed war on drugs and the failed war on poverty. Two wars that have terrible effects on minorities. I support pragmatic solution on this problem as a Libertarian. Funny how it is that the politicians elected by minorities vote in the halls of Congress to continue these ill gotten wars. Many minorities suffer the violence of arrest and imprisonment for things that sensible men would not consider a crime. Democrats could fix that problem overnight.
Debate Round No. 3
kasmic

Pro

In response to me asking how taking a felon’s right to vote protects other’s freedom con responds “Because voting is a civic duty necessary for a healthy society and criminals are anti-social with little care for civility.”

Voting is a civic duty. Some criminals may have little care for civility, though to assume that for all is foolish. Likewise, a so called “felon” who has been in prison for 20 years may have an entirely different world view then when the crime was committed. Either way, as mentioned previously, felons would make up about 2% of the vote, and that is only if they all voted. Clearly there would be no harm done in allowing “felons” to retain the freedom to vote.

"I may not agree with what you have to say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it"

I maintain that this quote supports the principle behind this debate. Despite my opponent foolishly declaring that “criminals are anti-social with little care for civility” they are still part of society however removed they appear. They are still governed by the system. Again as the Declaration of Independence states “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

Felons, without the right to vote cannot give consent to be governed and are therefore victims of tyranny. This is a violation of the founding principles of this nation.


Con then says “You complain that minorities are disproportionately affected. I agree that is a problem but the problem is for another debate. That debate is about the failed war on drugs and the failed war on poverty.”

I never made such an argument. Though it appears that con feels that minorities are disproportionately affected. This is a welcome endorsement in favor of the resolution.

Conduct:

Con has repeatedly ridiculed me in this debate. Saying things like “I can hardly believe anyone would make the argument…” and “Mind your own business.” These Ad Hominem statements have no place in debate.

Con has also repeatedly committed the straw man fallacy saying

“You also seem to think that Felons in America only lose their right to vote. They lose other rights also.”

I never expressed such a view.

“Your proposal here is to have a centralized government make a law to force states to act against our own will.”

I never made such a proposal. I merely argued that Felons should retain the right to vote. Not once have I mentioned how this ought to be accomplished.

Lastly and perhaps the least offensive

“You complain that minorities are disproportionately affected.”


I never made such a complaint. Though, it is a reasonable argument to make. I leave it to the voters to determine if the Straw man fallacy and Ad Hominem attacks are valid.

Closing Statement:

As con conceded, minorities are disproportionately affected. Allowing Felons to retain the right to vote poses no harm. As such, taking such a right away is tyrannical and against the principles this nation is founded on.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”( Declaration of Independence)


If the right to vote is taken away, our entire system of government cannot live up to its primary purpose. In the interest of our government filling its purpose, or in other words, securing the unalienable rights afforded to all men, it is only reasonable to conclude that Felons should have voting rights in the modern U.S.

Vote Pro!

PatulousDescry

Con

Regarding the most vile anti-social corrupt humans among us. The depraved ones who are found guilty of heinous crimes and destruction of society for self serving purposes. Regarding these incurable criminals who selfishly deny others their human rights, Kasmic wants to give them a share of power in the governance of our society. To that I say "NO!". I will painfully accept the influence a few states will have on our nation by allowing these incurable criminals who have proved themselves to be chronic transgressors of of the boundaries necessary for a healthy society to have some influence on my children's future. These destructive people chose to not be governed at all. You too can make that choice just Step out your door and hurt another citizen. I hope you do not but if you do then you will have chosen to not be governed at all and in that case myself and a super majority of our fellows banish you from our society and its brilliant system.

As far as "The War on Minorities" goes, one that Kasmic and I agree needs a solution, does not make banishing incurable psychopaths a wrong measure for the protection our society. It is the wars on the minorities that is the problem. We wrongfully banish these unfortunate people who are victimized arrested and imprisoned by an already corrupt and criminal system. We do not need more of the criminally insane to contribute to this already terribly flawed government.

All in all this debate here is about states rights. As Kasmic conceded through silence the federal congress is not a democracy at all. You can not have a democracy when a citizen shares a representative with eight hundred thousand other constituents. In my state legislature I share a representative with 63 thousand fellow constituents. Anyone who appreciates democracy appreciates our constitutional system of leaving much decision making to the states. I assumed Kasmic wanted to use the federal congress to force the states to handle destructive anti-social psychopaths in manners that would go against the democratic will of the states. Kasmic claims I am wrong in my assumption when he says "I merely argued that Felons should retain the right to vote. Not once have I mentioned how this ought to be accomplished." Since my argument is to maintain the status quo I have no problem with Kasmic voicing his opinion as long as he is not promoting the use of federal violence to force my community to act against its will.

This particular debate is "Felons should have voting rights in the modern U.S." My point is clear Those who chose to commit violence against against innocent members of our society. Those who chose to selfishly steal the fruits of labor from honest people. Those who chose to destroy the fabric of our society for their own personal gain, Those who chronically suffer from criminal insanity have no business in the governance of the rest of us, our lives and our children's future.
Debate Round No. 4
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by phantom 1 year ago
phantom
RFD

Con relies too much on appeals to emotion rather than logical arguments. He basically asserts violent and selfish people should have no say in governance without pointing out the reason why; as if voters should know it prima facie. What would letting felons have voting rights entail? I can think of some harmful results but Con does not explain any. I think Con is overstating the malignancy of criminals, and it does not exactly prove that the government has the right to take away the felon"s right to vote. If we"re talking about depriving individuals of previously held rights, then the government has to justify that seizure of rights. As Pro points out, the government is very much rooted in the protection of rights. Simply stating that felons are anti-social is not a good argument, at least in the way Con made it. Con does not address the fact that felons make such a small portion of the population that their votes don"t really matter. That fact seems to undermine Con's worry over felons being allowed to vote. So it"s hard to see how it would be detrimental to let them vote, especially since Con is not willing to point out any impacts. Con argued that it should be left to state rights, but that doesn't really contradict Pro"s case since state laws could fit within his case. This part of the debate was somewhat blurry, however.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
No problem, always happy to give a vote and discuss it afterward.
Posted by PatulousDescry 1 year ago
PatulousDescry
Whiteflame I understand your point and appreciate your advice. It will surely help my performance in the future. I wish I had realized that I need more than just emotional appeal. I could have used an example I recently had in my own community where my favored candidate for township supervisor lost by only a few hundred votes. You have taught me that although I may have a visceral reaction regarding Mansion voting that is strong enough to blanket the "No Vote" policy others may not. I need to stop convincing myself in this arena and think about the positions of other. Thanks for this chat.
Posted by PatulousDescry 1 year ago
PatulousDescry
Whiteflame I understand your point and appreciate your advice. It will surely help my performance in the future. I wish I had realized that I need more than just emotional appeal. I could have used an example I recently had in my own community where my favored candidate for township supervisor lost by only a few hundred votes. You have taught me that although I may have a visceral reaction regarding Mansion voting that is strong enough to blanket the "No Vote" policy others may not. I need to stop convincing myself in this arena and think about the positions of other. Thanks for this chat.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
I think you're missing something here, because Pro gave a response to that. He said that they make up such a small proportion of the population that felons would, effectively, be casting pointless votes. They wouldn't decide the results of an election. You didn't respond to that. Saying that Charles Manson would effectively get to choose, by himself, who is appointed to a position is ludicrous, and your opponent made it clear that it was.

So what I'm left with is that we don't want felons voting because... reasons? I don't see the argument. There might be some reason why we wouldn't want them participating in the democratic process, even if they don't effectively get to make the decision, but I don't see that argument anywhere in your case.

Even if I did, I really don't see the harm. What, are we expecting now that there's someone up for mayor somewhere who's on a "free all felons early" ticket? What's the harm of their decision? You've got to explain this. Why should I care that Charles Manson is playing a key role in electing my officials? You need to talk about how politicians may, in fact, alter their platforms to be criminal-friendly. I don't see that in your argument either. Honestly, I don't see any obvious harm from Charles Manson voting without making that argument for you - your argument requires that I assume you've analyzed the impacts when you spent no time doing so.
Posted by PatulousDescry 1 year ago
PatulousDescry
No Meat? you guys want Charles Manson to vote for who appoints the warden, to vote for someones mayor, Senator, Governor, Congressman, School-board... This is obviously bad, yes it is. Charles Mansion has no business voting for your governance. I didn't ask you to assume that the Charles Mansions voting for lawmakers, judges and tax allocaters is harmful, I expect you to know that.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
The problem is that there's no meat to that argument. It's a nice appeal to emotion, making me aware that these are bad people who I should think don't deserve such a right, but you're not giving me any reasoning as to why that's harmful, beyond some vague "this is obviously bad" point. You never countered Pro's argument that they essentially get no say given their proportion of the population, so I don't see a solid harm. You're just asking me to assume such a harm exists and has broad implications. I can't do that without giving you arguments. And even if I did do that, I'd still have to weigh that against Pro's arguments, and likely vote his way. He gives me brink analysis - go past this point and we've done something terrible. Your argument doesn't include that; why should I believe that this particular right, if garnered by felons, is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back, destroying something fundamental to society? Without that argument, Pro has the more believable harm, and so I'd still vote his way.
Posted by PatulousDescry 1 year ago
PatulousDescry
Whiteflame I did acknowledge that not all felons deserve to lose their right to vote along with other rights we strip them of. I tried to persuade you that giving the worst of criminals their rights back is unwise in an effort to generously give lesser felons back their rights. I am still astounded at the votes in favor of giving the power to govern of our society to those who choose to selfishly steal the fruits of labor from honest people. Those who chose to destroy the fabric of our society for their own personal gain. Those who chronically suffer from criminal insanity. They have no business in the governance of the rest of us, our lives and our children's future.
Posted by PatulousDescry 1 year ago
PatulousDescry
Here is where I mistakenly thought Kasmic brought up the war on minorities. A problem that I believe we all agree exists. Kasmic Said- "As Con seems to think voting abilities negligible due to numbers, as well as numbers show the minority that is felons in this nation, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no danger or freedom to be lost by allowing felons to vote. The only loss of freedom would result in taking away the right to vote from the felons themselves." It may have hurt my argument but I am still glad it got some air.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
RFD (Pt. 1):

My decision is straightforward, and that will become clear as I write this out, but there's a lot to cover. In this case, as I feel there's a lot that needs to be discussed, I will take the time to do so.

I think I need to start with definitions. No, that word was never mentioned in this debate, but there was a back and forth over it.

Both sides agree on what voting rights entail. Both sides agree on what the modern U.S. entails. There is, however, disagreement on what felons are. Con is pretty direct in his opinion on this matter, though at first he frames it as just including violent criminals out to kill our families. It takes him until the very last paragraph of the debate to explain what he fully means:

"Those who chose to commit violence against against innocent members of our society. Those who chose to selfishly steal the fruits of labor from honest people. Those who chose to destroy the fabric of our society for their own personal gain, Those who chronically suffer from criminal insanity"

I can actually start to see a point coming out of it here, but in the final round, I can't accept such a large reframing. Admittedly, Pro doesn't directly define what it is to be a felon, but Con obviously spends much of the debate overly specifying it, and now we have that by his own admission. What Con seemed to be doing here was instead making a big point about how these people have committed such heinous crimes that they should be disallowed the right to vote, which I'll get to shortly. However, I don't think I ever get a good definition out of either side for felon, so I take it based on what I recollect (that it's a wide variety of crimes going well beyond even Con's final round explanation) and leave it at that.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by phantom 1 year ago
phantom
kasmicPatulousDescryTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
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Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
lannan13
kasmicPatulousDescryTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Great debate on Pro's part as it changed my views on this topic. Conduct to Pro due to Con's attack's and false ad hom statements about Pro. Pro gains sources as he was the only one who used sources in this debate. Con concedes to minorities being disperportionally affected by the system at work and because of that Concession the debate goes to Pro.