The Instigator
kasmic
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
Lee001
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 2 votes the winner is...
kasmic
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 8/10/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,260 times Debate No: 78298
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (36)
Votes (2)

 

kasmic

Pro

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

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)

Burden of proof

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

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)




Comment if interested.






Lee001

Con

Thank you Pro for challenging me to this debate! As Con, I will argue why felons shouldn't have voting rights. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
kasmic

Pro

Argument:

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 legitimate 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.

Sources:

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


Lee001

Con

In this round, I will state my arguments.

First off, Felons already have voting rights when they get out of prison. For example, in California [1] California – Voting rights are restored after parole is completed and no longer incarcerated. Anyways, I will argue why Felons shouldn't have the right to vote.

Contention 1; Dishonesty and Poor Character.

[2]

"We don't let children vote, for instance, or noncitizens, or the mentally incompetent. Why? Because we don't trust them and their judgment...

So the question is, do criminals belong in that category? And I think the answer is clearly yes. People who commit serious crimes have shown that they are not trustworthy."

People who are felons have committed crimes and have taken other rights of people. Such as committing murder and taking away an innocent life. As my opponent has stated above "“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.” When a felon takes can take a life, and the happiness of that person, and the happiness of that family. What gives that felon to have rights that every American bestows? "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. When someone commits a felon, they should have some rights taken away. Voting privileges should be taken away as well.

[3] " Children, non-citizens and the mentally incompetent can't vote because of standards involving trustworthiness and responsibility. The same requirements should apply to felons"


Contention 2; [2] Congressional Authority over Voting

"Most prominently, the 14th Amendment makes felon voting a state prerogative, not a federal one..."

According to section 2 of the 14th Amendment, it's okay to take away a felons right to vote

[4] "Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment grants states the authority to deny voting rights to anyone with a criminal conviction, and it is up to the states to determine their own restoration process if they choose to enact one."

The 1st Amendment doesn't state "Every U.S citizen no matter what the background, has the right to vote." The 1st Amendment doesn't give that right to everybody, instead they give the states the choice. This is to show, Felons don't have the right to vote, it's not a right. By the 14th Amendment, Felons don't have the right to vote depending on the States choice. This Amendment clearly shows, it's not taking away a right.

What should happen.

[5] " Your July 16 editorial “Disenfranchised Felons” asserts that the only reason not to let felons vote is “to stigmatize them or to continue punishing them.”

To the contrary, the fundamental reason we do not let felons vote is that we have certain minimum, objective standards of responsibility, trustworthiness and loyalty to our laws that must be met before someone can participate in the sacred enterprise of self-government. So we don’t let children vote or the mentally incompetent or noncitizens — or those who have committed serious crimes against other people.

The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully and case by case, to ensure that the person has really turned over a new leaf.

To put it another way: If you are not willing to follow the law, you cannot demand the right to elect those who make the law."

Felons should be able to vote once they have turned over a new leaf and have shown over a span of time that they are capable to vote in a trustworthy matter. They need to have consequences, if they don't, what have they learned?

Sources:

[1] https://exoffenders.net...

[2] http://felonvoting.procon.org...

[3] http://www.newsmax.com...

[4] https://www.aclu.org...
Debate Round No. 2
kasmic

Pro

Rebuttals:

Con states that “First off, Felons already have voting rights when they get out of prison.”

I noted this in round one. There are some cases where voting rights are restored after the sentence is served, but not always. This is also off-point as I am arguing that felons should not have to regain their right, I am asserting they should retain/ never have lost the right to vote.

Contention 1; Dishonesty and Poor Character.

Con states

"We don't let children vote, for instance, or noncitizens, or the mentally incompetent. Why? Because we don't trust them and their judgment... “

We don’t let children vote, it’s true. I disagree that it is due to us not trusting their judgement. Rather it is their inability to reason. This is due to the Pre-frontal cortex of the brain not being fully developed. (1)(2) Non-citizens don’t vote it is true, not because we don’t trust them, but rather because voting is part of the social contract of which non-citizens are not a part of.

Con than asks “do criminals belong in that category?” I am assuming the category being children, noncitizens, or mentally incompetent. Clearly felons should not. Felons are not children, are citizens, and if mentally incompetent would have made the insanity plea. Thus Felons do not fit in this category.

We see contention one is negated.

Contention 2; Congressional Authority over Voting

Much of this contention merely states the status quo, not support for it. I have shown in my argument why the status ought to be changed. Merely stating the status quo does not negate or support Con’s Argument.

Con argues that “the fundamental reason we do not let felons vote is that we have certain minimum, objective standards of responsibility, trustworthiness and loyalty to our laws that must be met before someone can participate in the sacred enterprise of self-government.”

This is in contrast to America’s fundamental principles of Government. “
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” Con has added a multitude of criteria to vote that is un-necessary. The only legitimate government gets its consent from the governed. If felons can’t vote, they can’t give consent. Thus, making the government that takes away the right to vote illegitimate. We ought not have an illegitimate government. Thus Felons should retain the right to vote.

Overview:

Con has argued against the resolution essentially as follows….

1: Felons fit into a category with the mentally underdeveloped, handicapped, or non-citizens and thus should not have voting rights.

2: Felons under the status quo do not have the right to vote and thus should not have the right to vote.

3: To have voting rights you must meet the specific criteria she lists.

Number one is entirely untrue and dismissed. Number two is just a statement of the status quo not support for it. Number 3 is arbitrary and thus not strong support to negate.

(1) http://www.wisegeek.org...
(2) http://hrweb.mit.edu...

Lee001

Con

I will now begin by rebutting Pro's case from R2.

Pro argues over Unalienable rights. Voting is not a right. As I have argued, in the 14th amendment it states that it isn't a given right to vote. It is up to the state in which they decide to let felons vote, or not vote. Pro arguing that voting for everyone is a right, is false. The 2nd part of the 14 Amendment can back this up.

Pro then goes on to say "We live in a society that requires of its government the protection and security of such rights." Yet the 14th Amendment, it's not a validate right. The state can choose whether or not to enforce this so called "Right". Let's take freedom of speech for example. the Government can't tell the state whether or not the state can enforce this right, it's a given right. Voting, isn't.

Pro argues the "The Power of the People" I am not entirely sure what he is arguing here. He gives us 2 quotes, and 1 sentence that doesn't say much nor explain what he is trying to argue here. Are you trying to say that if the government takes away a right, the people will rebell? That is what I'm getting at here.

Pro's next argument:

D: The whole picture

We live in a society that accepts…

1: All people born equal with rights (Equal rights, yes. But these rights are temporarily taken away when the person has acted in poor misconduct.)

2: Government’s function is to secure unalienable rights (Not according the 2nd part of the 14th Amendment which states the States can decide whether or not a felon can vote.)


3: Government receives power through the consent of the governed via voting ( This doesn't mean that Felons should still enjoy freedom because they have murdered somebody. Consequences need to be bestowed so these people can learn from their mistakes. Doing so will also protect your city.)
Debate Round No. 3
kasmic

Pro

Thank you to Lee001 for a great debate, it is always fun to debate you.

Overview of my case:

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

Con has claimed voting to not be a right. This misses the mark, as while I do argue that voting is a right my main argument is that the governments function is to protect and ensure rights and that the government can only do so legitimately through the consent of the governed. Voting is how that consent is given. Thus the impact of taking the vote away from felons is

1: Government cannot receive legitimate power through consent of the governed if the governed cannot vote.

2: Without consent or power the government cannot secure unalienable rights


Con asks what I intended by my Power of the People segment stating “ Are you trying to say that if the government takes away a right, the people will rebel?”

This is not at all what that portion of my argument is stating. Rather, I am stating that our society accepts that the people give power to the government through consent. Without consent people cannot give the government consent.

Overview of Con’s case:

Con has argued against the resolution essentially as follows….

1: Felons fit into a category with the mentally underdeveloped, handicapped, or non-citizens and thus should not have voting rights.

2: Felons under the status quo do not have the right to vote and thus should not have the right to vote.

3: To have voting rights you must meet the specific criteria she lists.

Number one is entirely untrue and dismissed. Number two is just a statement of the status quo not support for it. Number 3 is arbitrary and thus not strong support to negate.

Conclusion
:

It becomes clear that
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.

Thanks for reading, vote Pro!



Lee001

Con

I'm sorry, I'm going to waive this last round, I'm sorry Kasmic. Feel free to award Pro conduct, but vote who had more convincing arguments. It's always a pleasure to debate you Kasmic.
Debate Round No. 4
36 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Antnego 1 year ago
Antnego
Of course, my previous point is a huge can of worms... What arbitrary measure is used to determine who is competent to vote and who isn't? Where does one draw the line at "Violating the Rights" of others? Some might accuse CEOs of voting only in their best financial interests, while screwing over the rest of the populace.
Posted by Antnego 1 year ago
Antnego
Interesting debate - we are not governed according to the Declaration of Independence. We're governed according to the Constitution and State Laws which do not contradict said Constitution.

Letting felons vote isn't practical either. Imagine incarcerated and paroled murderers banning together to legalize murder. Letting people who have no regard for the law, to the point where they violate the rights of others, doesn't sound like a good idea.
Posted by Lee001 1 year ago
Lee001
Thank you.
Posted by Lee001 1 year ago
Lee001
Thank you.
Posted by kasmic 1 year ago
kasmic
Thanks for reading and voting.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
I also had a typo in part 3.

Con's response is that the requirement is consent and not the additional criteria...etc.

I meant Pro in this paragraph and not Con.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
In Part 1, I said that "Con provided a general challenge stating that Felons shouldn't enjoy the freedom to vote because they committed a crime." I wanted to add that this point is addressed in Con's case.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
(Part 1)

Pro's Case

A: Unalienable Rights

Pro's case is based on the declaration of independence, and that certain rights are unalienable. He argues that voting rights are also unalienable. Con counters that voting is not a right (She means not an unalienable right). She cites the 14th Amendment " section 2 to defend her case. Pro responds that it in fact a right. Pro fails to establish it's an *unalienable* right. This point is refuted.

B: The Duty of Government

Pro argues that the government should protect natural or unalienable rights. I don't see Pro's point at all. Basically Pro is *heavily relying* on the previous contention that voting is an unalienable right. Con argues that the 14th Amendment allows for these rights to be suppressed. I don't think it's a very good response by Con because the resolution is challenging the status quo, including the 14th Amendment. But in any case, since the first contention was refuted, I can't give any weight to this argument.

C: Power of the People

This was a good argument from Pro. He argues that Felons are "governed", and the government comes from the consent of the governed. It's a very smart argument. Unfortunately Con didn't seem to understand this point well, so misses the point. This point goes to Pro. However, Con provided a general challenge stating that Felons shouldn't enjoy the freedom to vote because they committed a crime. Pro's point stands.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
(Part 2)

Con's Case

C1: Dishonesty and Poor Character

This was a good argument by Con. She explained that voting rights is not universal. E.g. children and mentally ill can't vote. (I actually didn't know about the mentally ill. After research 30 states and DC ban them.) Con argues that the reasons these are not allowed, because they can't be trusted, or their judgment can't be trusted. Now she needs to build a link of this argument to felons. The first quote states that "People who commit serious crimes have shown that they are not trustworthy." Sounds reasonable, but I was hoping for more explanation and justification. Con's other point is that criminals should lose some rights because they took rights from others. That also sounds logical.

For the record, Pro's response to following comment was really bad: "Con than asks "do criminals belong"" Felons are not children, are citizens, and if mentally incompetent would have made the insanity plea. Thus Felons do not fit in this category." Pro clearly didn't understand the first quote. Con's argument is that they are of the same category because they are both not trustworthy.

Pro rebuts by saying that Children and mentally ill are a different category because they don't have the ability to reason. I feel bad for Con because she wasn't able to defend her case. But based on the information I have, Pro was able to "separate" felons from children or the mentally ill, so this point is refuted.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
(Part 3)

C2: Congressional Authority over Voting

This is a very defensive argument. It basically stated the 14th Amendment which the resolution is challenging. Con here again challenges that voting is not an unalienable right. So even if this argument stands, it doesn't mean I'll vote for Con.

In a nutshell, Con's arguing that felons have committed a crime and their voting rights can be taken away. I'm agreeing with Con that the right *can* be taken away, but what's the reason that it *should* be taken away? Con's best explanation is that "the fundamental reason we do not let felons vote is that we have certain minimum, objective standards of responsibility, trustworthiness and loyalty to our laws that must be met before someone can participate in the sacred enterprise of self-government."

Con's response is that the requirement is consent and not the additional criteria she provided. But I can't agree with Con, because Children and the mentally can give consent, but not necessarily a responsible one. In fact, Pro's own words against Children's right to vote is that their inability to reason.

What I am uncomfortable about is what is the criteria to allow (or not allow) someone to vote. Based on this debate alone, it's consent and ability to reason. But I don't see why felons can't have those abilities. So I vote Pro.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
kasmicLee001
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Death23 1 year ago
Death23
kasmicLee001
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: .