The Instigator
topspeaker70
Pro (for)
Losing
20 Points
The Contender
timothy104
Con (against)
Winning
34 Points

In a Democratic Society, Felons Ought to Retain the Right to Vote

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/27/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,595 times Debate No: 5822
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (8)

 

topspeaker70

Pro

Because I support the VALUES set forth in the Preamble to the United States Constitution, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constiution, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I affirm.

The CRITERA I advocate for your ultimately deciding this debate are:

(1) OBJECTIVITY: This debate should not be decided on the basis of preexisting personal opinions, bias, or prejudice.

(2) LOGIC: This debate should not be decided on the basis undisciplined emotionalism.

(3) TANGIBLE, EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE: This debate should be decided upon documented facts, not upon abstract, unverifiable, hypotheses.

MY RESOLUTIONAL ANALYSIS AND FRAMEWORK:

(A) The United States of America is a democratic society; indeed, it is the most prominent democratic society in the world today.

(B) Of all the democratic societies in the world today (and I believe that there are 119 countries which identify themselves as such), the United States stands almost alone in automatically disenfanchising (revoking the right to vote of) felons. The consensus of experts in the fields of law, ciminology, and political science is that - today - appromiately 2.5% of the American adult population (5-6 million people) in this country is denied the right to vote because of "felon" and/or "ex-felon" status.

CONTENTION ONE: The American policy of revoking the right to vote felons (which I will now consistently refer to as "felon disenfranchisement") is illogical and haphazard.

There are many reasons for this:

A. Many of the people who commit felonies are never arrested, so they are never identified as "felons." Either the crimes go unreported, or the investigations fail to locate a suspect. (For example, remember the "anthrax killings" which occurred after 9/11.)

B. Many of the people who are arrested for committing felonies are not prosecuted. The charges them are dropped - or reduced to misdemeanors - for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the suspect's guilt or innocence (i.e., prosecutorial discretion (including the prosecutor's political agenda), court-clog, and/or jail-prison overcrowding).

C. Many of the people who are arrested for committing felonies, and who are prosecuted, "plea-bargain" down to a misdemeanor, and therefore retain the right to vote.

D. Many of the people in this country who are convicted of felonies (the expert estimates range from .5% to 14%) are actually INNOCENT!

E. Even if our criminal justice system were perfect (which it certainly isn't), there is no logical reason to believe that felons - as a group - would be "worse voters" than untreated alcoholics, untreated drug addicts, psychotics (treated or untreated), the homeless, illiterates, morons, grade-school dropouts, moral perverts, petty criminals (as noted before, unlike "felons," people who commit "misdemeanors" retain the right to vote), and/or lawyers...

and yet only felons are the only adult citizens singled out under American law for disenfranchisement. Indeed, a good case can be made for theory that the only real justification for felon disenfranchisement in America is ulterior desire to perpetuate racism and/or material eliteism.

CONTENTION TWO: The American policy of felon disenfranchisement actually HARMS the American democratic society. I assert this for two independent reasons:

A. Felony disenfranchisement increases crime. (If you prefer debatespeak and/or legalese, "felony disenfranchisement encourages criminal recidivism.")

Disenfranchisement (which, by the way, has historically be referred to as "civil death"), by definition and design, alienates the felon from society, severely damages the felon's chances for rehabilitation, and gives the felon a greater incentive to commit even more crime when he or she is ultimately released from prison (assuming he or she is sent to prison in the first place - many felons are not - instead, they are placed on "probation").

Empirical studies - including some conducted right here in the good old USA - demonstate that in those jurisdictions in which felons retain the right to vote, they are 50% less likely to commit another crime than in jurisdictions which deny felons the right to vote.

B. Felony disenfranchisement laws backfire - they disenfranchise non-felons. (If you prefer debatespeak or legalese, "felon disenfranchisement is counterproductive.")

In our democratic society, the right to vote is regulated, in large part, by State governments. Each of America's 50 states has it own laws concerning felony disenfranchisement. Two - Maine and Vermont - have no restictions whatsoever on the voting rights of felons - the position supported by the resolution; Two other States - Kentucky and Viginia - have automatic lifetime felon disenfranchisement. The remaining 46 States - and the District of Columbia - have created a veritable Rubic's Cube of rules, regulations and requirements which almost no one - expect perhaps a full-time election law attorney - can decipher.

As a result, the mere existence of felony disenfrachisement creates three inherent problems for non-felons who wish to exercise their right to vote. All of the following three problems have been empirically verified in the American elections that took place in 2004 and 2006, and the evidence also empiracally demonstrates that they are occurring in 2008:

A. VOTER CAGING: Lists of the names of convicted felons are cynically manipulated by partisans of one party or another to attack innocent voters - and literally hundreds of thousands of inocent voters are "purged" from voter registration lists, or are "challenged" at the polls on election day, or both. This is known as "voter caging," and it's anti-democratic to the max. (For example, my name is Michael Miller. I have never committed a felony, but they are -at least - hundreds of people named "Michael Miller" who have committed a felony. Because of this, I may be challenged at the polls any time I try to vote, and it is quite possible that someday I will be denied the right to vote.)

B. INNOCENT MISTAKES: Even well-meaning election officials are confused by the American maze of felon disenfranchisement laws. As a result, they often make mistakes and refuse to allow bona fide citizens to register to vote. In somes States (i.e., South Carolina), mistaken interpretation of voter eligibility laws - by completely honest election officials - runs as high as 61%!

C. SELF-DISENFRANCHISEMENT: Most Americans are not constitutional lawyers, nor are they experts in the field of election law. Thousands of honest, law-abiding Americans mistakenly believe that because they were arrested at some point in their lives, they have lost the right to vote, even though the charges against them were dropped, or they were found not guilty at trial. Thousands of others - who have very minor "criminal histories" - mistakenly believe that convictions for minor infractions, juvenile offenses, and/or misdemeanors disqualify them from voting.

CONCLUSION:

Like the disaster known as "Prohibition" in the America of the 1920's and early 1930's, felon disenfrachisement is a classic example of an arguably-noble theory that just doesn't work in the "real world" of American democracy. In addition, in the "real world" of American politics and elections, the policy of felon disenfranchisement - no matter how scrupulously it is applied - causes much more harm than to our society than it prevents.

I support felon enfranchisement - not because it's the right thing to do for felons - but because it's right thing to do for YOU - and all the rest of America's democratic society.
timothy104

Con

Introduction
Attorney and philosopher George Brooks once said, "When someone commits a crime, he commits not just an action against the victim, but against our entire society. Protests that time served is enough, and that society should prioritize the rehabilitation and reintegration of felons should fall on deaf ears. Opponents of disenfranchisement claim that the inability to vote stymies felons' 'remittance into a law-abiding society.' Yet they neglect to explain why the tonic of voting did not curtail felons from committing crimes initially." The fact is felons have hurt society, and the privilege of suffrage must be a punishment as otherwise they will continue to hurt society. Thus I negate the resolution, and believe felons should not retain the right to vote.

Definitions
Democratic Society - A society that has political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who vote directly on laws(wordnet)
Felon - somebody who is guilty of a felony, and serving time for one year or more (encarta.msn.com)
Retain - To maintain possession of (dictionary.com)
Right To Vote – A right granted to all citizens and protected by a government, which enables citizens to have power or say in government; suffrage (American heritage dictionary)

Highest Moral Value - Justice
Justice is defined as "giving someone what he or she is due [or deserves]." A felon has committed a crime, and deserves to be punished. Today's debate is a question of whether taking away suffrage should be a part of the punishment. Felons should be disenfranchised. I justify this based on my criterion of Justice
Value Criterion – Societal Welfare
Societal welfare is "acting in a way which uphold the good of a society as a whole." When serving justice to a society, we must consider societal welfare, as a society achieves justice (giving each citizen what he or she deserves) by making decision that benefit the welfare of a society.
Contention #1 – Felon's Set the Precedence That They Have Bad Judgment by Committing a Crime
a) Felon's have hurt society; we should limit this harm by removing suffrage rights
I'm sure my opponent will agree that a citizen who has raped or murdered a fellow citizen has shown he or she has bad judgment. Thus it would hurt society to allow these people with bad judgment to vote. A November 21, 2005, Washington Times article stated that "perpetrators of serious crimes have violated the public trust and cannot be permitted to help determine the future of the communities they harmed." The fact is, there are good and bad people in all societies. Felons are bad people. They have violated another's individual rights, thus showing they had bad judgment and they no longer deserve suffrage. Disenfranchisement is the only way to uphold justice.
b) Universal Deceleration Of Human Rights
Article 29 (2) states "In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society." Most simply, the UD of HR is saying we can justify take away a right of a citizen if he or she has hurt the welfare of society.
Contention #2 – John Locke's Philosophy And Theory of Justice
a) Who Locke Believed Has A Say In Society
Locke once said "if you don't respect the laws, then you shouldn't have a say in them." Felons show no respect for law, and should thus have no power in the formation of the law.
b) What Locke Believed Was Appropriate Punishment
Locke believed that "under certain circumstances citizens can lose even the rights they do have by nature. Someone who violates another's rights to life, liberty, and property forfeits his own rights to these things; society can legitimately punish him by removing these rights. The criminal has broken the social compact and violated the trust of his fellow citizens." Most simple, individual rights are a privilege, not a birth right. If you improve society, you keep you rights. If you harm society, you don't deserve these rights.

Conclusion.
In conclusion, negating the resolution is a very easy thing to do. A felon has shown bas judgment by hurting society. Because they have hurt society, we must punish them in a just way. Disenfranchise is a just punishment as it aids societal welfare. I will not move on to my opponent's case.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------On to my opponents case-----------
I will start with my opponents frame work.
(1) my opponent incorrectly claims that the United States in a democratic society. My opponent never defined democratic society, so my definition stands for the round. In a Democratic society, people vote directly on laws. That is not how it is done in the USA. We vote for people to represent us. Thus, the USA is a constitutionally limited republic, not a democratic society.
(2) has no relevance in the debate, so i guess i accept

My opponents 1st contention
a) this is irrelevant to the debate. The resolution is asking about felons, not people who were never caught. Again, my opponent never defined felon. Looking at my definition, these people never caught are not felons. Thus this argument is void. Furthermore, just because certain people were not caught, there is no argument here why this matters to people who were caught. His argument is if we allow 5 people with bad judgment to vote, we should allow 10 more. That is illogical

b) this is irrelevant to debate for reasons stated above. a misdemeanor is a much less serious offence than a felony, and who knows, maybe people who commit a misdemeanor should be disenfranchised. either way it is irrelevant.

c) again the resolution says nothing about misdemeanors. i think they should also be disenfranchised

d) really an ignorant claim. under this logic, we should never put murders in jail becuase some may be innocent, and we wouldn't want to risk one innocent person in jail. i agree, it is a sad truth that innocent people will be disenfranshed, but it is for the good of a society as a whole.

e) there is great reason to believe that felons have bad judgment. they killed or murdered or raped someone. they don't even pay taxes in jail. they should thus obviously have nothing to do with laws they didn't view as important. again my opponent infers something about misdemeanors, which i have previously answered.

on to contention II
a) the criminal had the right to vote before he committed a crime----this didn't stop him or her from committing a crime

it is that simple---my opponent provides no sources for his 50% less likely study,

b) based on US, not a democratic society. and it is a conspiracy theory. this is not a problem of they system in place, but the people. further more, saying that there was problem in 2004 or 2006 does not prove anything. there is not facts to support my opponents claims.
a) again purely hypothetical, no evidence
b) again, USA not relevant to debate
c) really just a stupid argument which defeats itself. if someone is dumb enough to think that they cant vote when they can, then they shouldn't vote cause their retarded

In conclusion, my opponents entire case is based on the United States. He did not define Democratic Society, so my definition stands threw out the debate. Moreover, my opponents entire case is based on technicalities and hypothetical arguments with no evidence to support them.

Thank you for reading, I look foward to my opponents reponce.
Debate Round No. 1
topspeaker70

Pro

Because I support the VALUES set forth in the Preamble to the United States Constitution, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I affirm.

The CRITERA I advocate for your ultimately deciding this debate are:

(1) OBJECTIVITY: This debate should not be decided on the basis of preexisting personal opinions, bias, or prejudice.

(2) LOGIC: This debate should not be decided on the basis undisciplined emotionalism.

(3) TANGIBLE, EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE: This debate should be decided upon documented facts, not upon abstract, unverifiable, hypotheses.

MY RESOLUTIONAL ANALYSIS AND FRAMEWORK:

(A) The United States of America is a democratic society; indeed, it is the most prominent democratic society in the world today.

(B) Of all the democratic societies in the world today (and I believe that there are 119 countries which identify themselves as such), the United States stands almost alone in automatically disenfanchising (revoking the right to vote of) felons. The consensus of experts in the fields of law, criminology, and political science is that - today - appromiately 2.5% of the American adult population (5-6 million people) in this country is denied the right to vote because of "felon" and/or "ex-felon" status.

CONTENTION ONE: The American policy of revoking the right to vote felons (which I will now consistently refer to as "felon disenfranchisement") is illogical and haphazard.

There are many reasons for this:

A. Many of the people who commit felonies are never arrested, so they are never identified as "felons." Either the crimes go unreported, or the investigations fail to locate a suspect. (For example, remember the "anthrax killings" which occurred after 9/11.)

B. Many of the people who are arrested for committing felonies are not prosecuted. The charges them are dropped - or reduced to misdemeanors - for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the suspect's guilt or innocence (i.e., prosecutorial discretion (including the prosecutor's political agenda), court-clog, and/or jail-prison overcrowding).

C. Many of the people who are arrested for committing felonies, and who are prosecuted, "plea-bargain" down to a misdemeanor, and therefore retain the right to vote.

D. Many of the people in this country who are convicted of felonies (the expert estimates range from .5% to 14%) are actually INNOCENT!

E. Even if our criminal justice system were perfect (which it certainly isn't), there is no logical reason to believe that felons - as a group - would be "worse voters" than untreated alcoholics, untreated drug addicts, psychotics (treated or untreated), the homeless, illiterates, morons, grade-school dropouts, moral perverts, petty criminals (as noted before, unlike "felons," people who commit "misdemeanors" retain the right to vote), and/or lawyers...

and yet only felons are the only adult citizens singled out under American law for disenfranchisement. Indeed, a good case can be made for theory that the only real justification for felon disenfranchisement in America is ulterior desire to perpetuate racism and/or material elitism.

CONTENTION TWO: The American policy of felon disenfranchisement actually HARMS the American democratic society. I assert this for two independent reasons:

A. Felony disenfranchisement increases crime. (If you prefer debatespeak and/or legalese, "felony disenfranchisement encourages criminal recidivism.")

Disenfranchisement (which, by the way, has historically be referred to as "civil death"), by definition and design, alienates the felon from society, severely damages the felon's chances for rehabilitation, and gives the felon a greater incentive to commit even more crime when he or she is ultimately released from prison (assuming he or she is sent to prison in the first place - many felons are not - instead, they are placed on "probation").

Empirical studies - including some conducted right here in the good old USA - demonstrate that in those jurisdictions in which felons retain the right to vote, they are 50% less likely to commit another crime than in jurisdictions which deny felons the right to vote.

B. Felony disenfranchisement laws backfire - they disenfranchise non-felons. (If you prefer debatespeak or legalese, "felon disenfranchisement is counterproductive.")

In our democratic society, the right to vote is regulated, in large part, by State governments. Each of America's 50 states has it own laws concerning felony disenfranchisement. Two - Maine and Vermont - have no restrictions whatsoever on the voting rights of felons - the position supported by the resolution; Two other States - Kentucky and Virginia - have automatic lifetime felon disenfranchisement. The remaining 46 States - and the District of Columbia - have created a veritable Rubik's Cube of rules, regulations and requirements which almost no one - expect perhaps a full-time election law attorney - can decipher.

As a result, the mere existence of felony disenfrachisement creates three inherent problems for non-felons who wish to exercise their right to vote. All of the following three problems have been empirically verified in the American elections that took place in 2004 and 2006, and the evidence also empirically demonstrates that they are occurring in 2008:

A. VOTER CAGING: Lists of the names of convicted felons are cynically manipulated by partisans of one party or another to attack innocent voters - and literally hundreds of thousands of innocent voters are "purged" from voter registration lists, or are "challenged" at the polls on election day, or both. This is known as "voter caging," and it's anti-democratic to the max. (For example, my name is Michael Miller. I have never committed a felony, but they are -at least - hundreds of people named "Michael Miller" who have committed a felony. Because of this, I may be challenged at the polls any time I try to vote, and it is quite possible that someday I will be denied the right to vote.)

B. INNOCENT MISTAKES: Even well-meaning election officials are confused by the American maze of felon disenfranchisement laws. As a result, they often make mistakes and refuse to allow bona fide citizens to register to vote. In some States (i.e., South Carolina), mistaken interpretation of voter eligibility laws - by completely honest election officials - runs as high as 61%!

C. SELF-DISENFRANCHISEMENT: Most Americans are not constitutional lawyers, nor are they experts in the field of election law. Thousands of honest, law-abiding Americans mistakenly believe that because they were arrested at some point in their lives, they have lost the right to vote, even though the charges against them were dropped, or they were found not guilty at trial. Thousands of others - who have very minor "criminal histories" - mistakenly believe that convictions for minor infractions, juvenile offenses, and/or misdemeanors disqualify them from voting.

CONCLUSION:

Like the disaster known as "Prohibition" in the America of the 1920's and early 1930's, felon disenfrachisement is a classic example of an arguably-noble theory that just doesn't work in the "real world" of American democracy. In addition, in the "real world" of American politics and elections, the policy of felon disenfranchisement - no matter how scrupulously it is applied - causes much more harm than to our society than it prevents.

I support felon enfranchisement - not because it's the right thing to do for felons - but because it's right thing to do for YOU - and all the rest of America's democratic society.
timothy104

Con

I don't unerstand what my oppenent did.

He reposted his original argument exactly (his 1st and 2nd round posts are identical)

Please respond to my objection I put foward in round 1, and please respond to my side of the argument.

Thank you
Debate Round No. 2
topspeaker70

Pro

Maybe this reflects the vote from that Big Judge in the Sky...

I am writing this from the local Kinko's.

My Internet service is down at my home, so I will have to concede these rounds.

But - in the words of our beloved Governor Schwartzenhoosis: "I'll be back."

In other words, I will repost when my system is back up.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by rcal7 8 years ago
rcal7
I have figured out the ultimate observation: if felons aren't stable enough to vote after they are in/out of jail wouldn't they have been declared legally insane at the time of conviction and therefore not have been declared guilty but crazy?
Posted by rcal7 8 years ago
rcal7
Haha, thanks, but it's not it's a republic we just think we're democratic.
Posted by sadolite 8 years ago
sadolite
rcal, "The U.S isn't democratic to begin with". Good observation
Posted by rcal7 8 years ago
rcal7
COn solely b/c the resolution never specifies the U.S.A he can't use that as his main argument/value also the U.S isn't democratic to begin w/ so that also in validates the pro argument
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
Conduct: Con. Pro was unable to continue the debate.
Spelling and Grammar: Pro. Pro had some mistakes but was easier to read and follow than Con.
Argument: Con. Con negated Pro's arguments and there was no refutations of his rebuttal.
Sources. Tie. No sources offered on either side.
Posted by sadolite 8 years ago
sadolite
I voted con, Pro wants me do draw no distinction between convicted felons and law abiding citizens. This is illogical because there is most definitely a difference. Also there is no empirical evidence that shows not being able to vote is a trigger for committing more crime. I read the entire debate and kept an open mind throughout,(objective).
Posted by limevortex69 8 years ago
limevortex69
I don't know your intentions, but in your comment you said you used to be a lawyer. Of course I don't know whether you really are and whether you voted, but I checked the vote and the person was actually under 17 years old according to the chart XD LOL... Of course this would indeed be irrelevant to anything, but just to point out :D hehehe
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
...there is no logical reason to believe that felons - as a group - would be "worse voters" than untreated alcoholics, untreated drug addicts, psychotics...the homeless, illiterates, morons, grade-school dropouts, moral perverts, petty criminals...and/or lawyers"

LOL..implying that lawyers can be both advocates of the law and a drug-addicted, criminally insane tramps who can't read or write...

Actually, I used to be a lawyer myself and it is not far from the truth in some cases (no names, no pack drill, but Sir Martin Mears will know who I'm talking about)!
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