The Instigator
Con (against)
7 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/11/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,410 times Debate No: 6143
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Do the names Carrie Lenz or Cindy Brown ring a bell? Probably not. They were 26 years old when Tim McVeigh stopped them from ever voting again by bombing the Oklahoma City Federal building. Carrie and Cindy were in good company. There were 166 others in that one felony crime.

The Bureau of Justice lists over 847,000 homicides since 1960. If all those people had lived out their normal lives, that would affect over 9 million presidential votes and over 18 million municipal votes.

My value is justice. Justice, according to the Encarta Dictionary, is fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made.

There is nothing fair that felons like these are allowed to vote while many victims cannot.

My criterion is upholding the equal treatment of citizens. Equality in a democratic society is never reached when you subtract victim voices while adding felon voices. The ONLY way to achieve equal treatment of citizens is to negate the resolution that in a democratic society, felons ought to retain their right to vote.

A felon, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is someone who has been convicted of a serious crime. They may be currently incarcerated or released.


Contention 1

Felons have chosen not to vote.

Committing a felony requires premeditation and intent. The consequences of felony convictions are widely known to include no firearms, no elected offices, no jury duty and no voting. My opponent agreed in cross examination that a vote could not be changed once cast - so, in order to treat a felon like other members of society - the felon's decision not to vote should be honored by society.


"A passive and ignorant citizenry will never create a sustainable
world." Because I agree with philosopher Andrew Gaines, I affirm the
resolution, resolved: In a democratic society, felons ought to retain
the right to vote. Affirming achieves the value of equality, as
defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as "An ideal of uniformity in
treatment or status by those in a position to affect either." The
value equality is the only value for the round because equality was
the foundation in creating democracy. The criterion that I will use to
measure equality is fair representation. Voting is intended to
represent all voters' voices. When we have fair representation among
all classes, races, and sexes, we will achieve a greater amount of
equality. I will offer the following definition from the Cambridge
International Dictionary of English. Felon: a person who is guilty of
a serious crime

Contention 1: Communities suffer severely from felon
disenfranchisement. Jeffrey Reiman, author of Liberal and Republican
Arguments against the Disenfranchisement of Felons, "Research has
shown that poor and/or non-white persons are more likely to be
arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison than their
wealthier, white, counterparts." This means that people of color are
more likely to be arrested because they are of color than those who
are white. Because of this, communities suffer greatly. According to
Marc Mauer, who wrote Disenfranchising Felons Hurts Entire Communities
"…The vast expansion of the prison apparatus over the last two decades
is now hurting not only those incarcerated and their families, but
their communities as well. Increasingly, the ability of these
communities to gain political representation and influence – and
therefore access to public resources is being thwarted by the American
race to incarcerate. The structural racism in the system, an
entrenched and often unconscious bias in law enforcement, has weakened
the Black political power. This affects everything, from township
supervisors to the president and all the policies that result."
Project Vote, an organization dedicated to voter engagement and civic
participation, reported, "When felons lose the right to vote, it
weakens the political power of the entire neighborhood, including
residents who have committed no crime." Communities do not have the
voting power to make the changes needed in a community. On a larger
scale, there is a huge discrepancy between the minorities and the
wealthy white upper-class. "Political influence and access to
resources are further hindered…urban areas suffer from the vicious
cycle set in motion by the dramatically high rates of arrest and
imprisonment of members and their communities," adds Mauer. In order
to break this lewd cycle, felons, like any other group of people, must
be granted the right to vote…not only for the felons, but also for the
law-abiding citizens who have committed no crimes. Disenfranchisement
does not value equality or justice in any manner when we are
disenfranchising entire communities.

Contention 2: To become a true democratic society all people have the
right to vote. The key words of this resolution are "In a democratic
society…" Aristotle, a renowned Greek philosopher, said, "If liberty
and equality are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best
attained when all persons alike share in the government to the
utmost." This means that we must grant all people the ability to vote.
We must allow not only men and women but also all ethnicities and most
importantly, those who follow the law and those who have broken the
law. If we refuse the vote of any class, race, sex, or age the ability
to vote, we are no longer a "democratic society" because we cease to
represent every person. A democratic society is "for the people, by
the people." Refusing to allow any person the right to vote
undermines the principles that have laid the foundation of democracy.
Philosopher Ayn Rand said, "A majority has no right to take away the
rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to
protect minorities form oppression by majorities." To take away the
voice of any community weakens democracy severely. However, giving
everyone the ability to vote will help create a better democratic

Contention 3: Disenfranchisement is counterproductive. It is the goal
of every prison system in a democratic society to evolve their
prisoners from delinquents to productive members of society.
Disenfranchisement seeks to undermine the efforts that prisons put in
place. Prisons have chaplains, libraries, job assistance networks, and
work release programs to teach their inmates about being good members
of society. Matthew Cardinale, a graduate student in sociology at the
University of California, believes that disenfranchisement will only
undermine the prison's objectives. Cardinale wrote a report about
poor and homeless people with felony convictions and found that
disenfranchisement caused felons to feel they were "…only a fraction
of a citizen." Felons also felt the sense of separation left little
motivation to change their criminal behavior. This means that the
delinquents, who are no longer true members of society, have little
motivation to change their lives. This leaves the potential for crime
to increase instead of decrease. Granting felons suffrage yields a
positive effect. According to the Brennan Center for Justice,
"[R]estoring the right to vote helps reintegrate people with criminal
records into society and, by increasing voter participation,
strengthens democracy." Civic participation instills in the offender
feeling of belonging in the community and a sense of responsibility
toward others. This connection to others reduces the criminal
tendencies and helps restore former felons to contributing members of
society. Furthermore, Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen who are
Associate Professors at Northwestern University, said, "Denying voting
rights to ex-felons, or felons living in their communities on
probation and parole, undermines their capacity to connect with the
political system and may thereby increase their risk of recidivism."
In conclusion, a true democratic society grants all people the right
to vote, communities suffer severely from felon disenfranchisement and
disenfranchisement is counterproductive to the prison's rehabilitative

The goal of any democratic society is to achieve equality. In order
for any democratic society to function, we need to have all voices
represented. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent didn't attack my first contention so it holds contention 2 THE FELON HAS COMMITTED A CRIME

the criminal has done a crime and should be punished for it.


gidget forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by bgruber93 9 years ago
Please NO help during round And have fun
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bgruber93 9 years ago
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