The Instigator
Pro (for)
24 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 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: 10/22/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,703 times Debate No: 5786
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (6)




As stated by Former Supreme court justice the late Thurgood Marshall "It is doubtful...whether the state can demonstrate either a compelling or rational policy interest in denying former felons the right to vote. [Ex-offenders] have fully paid their debt to society. They are as much affected by the actions of government as any other citizen, and have as much of a right to participate in governmental decision-making. Furthermore, the denial of a right to vote to such persons is hindrance to the efforts of society to rehabilitate former felons and convert them into law-abiding and productive-- (dissent of Richardson v Ramirez) Because I agree With Justice Marshall I affirm the resolution that in a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote."
My Core Value will be that Of Justice defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the administration of law or some other authority according to the principles of just behavior and treatment (oxford)
My Criterion Is Preservation of Democracy. Preservation of Democracy means to do what is best to preserve the democratic process and democracy itself. This fulfils Justice because in a democratic society, justice is achieved when the people run the society and everybody has an equal voice. John Rawls Believed The three most fundamental ideas political culture of a democratic society are that citizens are free and equal, and that society should be a fair system of cooperation.

1st contention
It must be agreed that racial prejudice in society is a fundamentally unjust principle. Now I would like to point out that the judiciary statistically is prejudice against ethnic minorities. Blacks comprise 13 percent of the national population, but 30 percent of people arrested, 41 percent of people in jail,and 49 percent of those in prison.. Nationally, blacks are incarcerated at 8.2 times the rate of whites. That is, a black person is 8.2 times more likely to be in prison than a white person. Further around 70% of all felons exonerated on DNA evidence are black. So not only are black overrepresented in prison, but there is evidence that the judiciary tends to be racially prejudice. 13% of all Black males are disenfranchised making for 1/3 of the total disenfranchised population. 13% is also just a national Average. In Florida and Alabama 31% of all Blacks are permanently disenfranchised. Nationally 2% of the Population is disenfranchised, However, 13.1% of Adult Black Men are disenfranchised. As African Americans are an ethnic Minority it makes no sense for them to represent a prison majority. Also as I have said many of them have been wrongfully convicted so that a disproportionate amount of Blacks are unfairly losing their democratic right to vote without even having committed a crime. This is No way Is Just and does nothing to preserve the democratic process and democracy.

2nd Contention
The United Nations released a "Standard Minimum Rule for
the Treatment of Prisoners" that stated "The treatment of prisoners should emphasize not their exclusion from the community but their continuing part in it" This standard establishes that it is the best interest of society to fully rehabilitate ex-prisoners back into society because it provides for the betterment of that society. According to statistics taken in 1998 a total of 3.9 million adults, or 2.0 percent of the eligible voting population, is currently or permanently disenfranchised as a result of a felony conviction. Also around 30% of all eligible black males can not vote in election due to felon disenfranchisement. � Six states, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wyoming, exclude from the vote more than 4 percent of their adult population. And each Florida and Texas Disenfranchise more than 600,000 people. � Lets look at the democratic implications of felon Disenfranchisement In 1996 the number of disenfranchised eligible voters in Florida was 647,100. In the 2000 Elections George Bush won Florida By 1725 Votes. The state of Florida has 27 Electoral votes. In that election George Bush won the presidency by 5 electoral votes. If all 647,100 of these Voters were re-enfranchised and 1726 more of those voters cast ballots in favor of Al Gore than in favor of George Bush the presidential election would have turned another way. So, by disenfranchising voters, Florida brought down the potential voter turnout, and by doing so restricted the democratic process. Because Disenfranchisement Restricts the democratic process it cannot be just as it does not help to preserve Democracy. The fact that these voters were disenfranchised caused a serious lapse in democracy, and therefore did no justice. Because Disenfranchisement restricts the democratic process the resolution is a just principle.

3rd Contention
Among democratic countries the united states may have the strictest felon disenfranchisement laws. We are the only known democracy in which felons who have either fully completed or been released from, their sentence are still permanently disenfranchised. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives…" This Document establishes basic human rights in governments internationally and states quite clearly that every citizen has an innate right to take part and vote in elections. Because Felon disenfranchisement does not respect this basic right then it is an unjust principle that in no way, provides for the preservation of democracy. If a country can decide it can break any universal code as it please it would not be in the best interests of society and would not in any way preserve the democratic process.
Because, as I have proved, the idea of Felon Disenfranchisement does not promote the best for society in the form of the preservation of democracy and the creation of justice, the reverse must also be true. If Felons were re-enfranchised it would strengthen the democratic process and would be the most just solution because it preserves democracy.


Felons are as culpable for their actions as they are as culpable for their mistreatment"

Value: I accept the value for this debate as Justice

Value Criterion: Retribution will be my value criterion for this debate. In order for justice to be maintained, some form of retribution must be applied for society to fall into order. Whenever an individual acts in an unlawful way, actions must be taken to balance out the spectrum in order to maintain justice.

1. Maintaining order
In order to maintain order, some action must be done to balance out the unlawful actions that have taken place. Without some form of retribution, society would be essentially condoning felony. Our nation would devolve into chaos and despair, something as a society we are morally obliged to avoid.

2. Social Contract
The social contract, stated by John Locke, states that the people forfeit some rights to government in order to secure more rights. It also states that when an individual violates the rights of others within this government, it is the peoples and government's responsibility to act against said individual. One right violation (that of life, which is needed to utilize all other rights) allows another right violation (disenfranchisement) to exist. This retribution is needed in order to sustain order.

Now I will rebut my opponent's case.

Value: I have accepted his value

Criterion: The preservation of Democracy does not maintain proper justice. Some action needs to be taken in order to insure that the actions of the felon are not condoned by society.

1st Contention: Racism does not exist in government. Racism does not exist, because the term in itself is a contradiction to reality and itself. The term is a contradiction to itself because by calling another person racist, you are in a sense racist yourself, unless you abide by the double standard that is held upon whites in America, in which every race beside Caucasian is allowed to utilize the "race card". The term also is a contradiction to reality because humans, by nature, are designed and tend to form into groups. This forces generalizations to be applied, so calling someone a racist for applying generalizations is against humanity. The reason that most felons are black is the same reason that most criminals are black. This does not in any way make the act of disenfranchisement immoral or unjust.

2nd Contention: The United Nations does not hold any ruling or reign over America. We are a sovereign nation and should focus on how this affects America domestically, because other nations are in a completely different status quo. The act of disenfranchisement does not restrict the democratic process because the lack of a felon vote is negligible on society, and they also still do not deserve a vote.

3rd Contention: Again, this issue has no pertinence to other countries because, for one, this resolution is based on purely a democratic society, and two, their status quo differs from ours.

Conclusion: Because re-enfranchising criminals would be unjust and would not fair well for a society as a whole, felons should stripped of the right to vote.
Debate Round No. 1


Metz forfeited this round.


I extend all of my arguments, and would like the voters to remember that all of the affirmative's arguments depend on the status quo of America, yet the resolution only states a democratic society.

So then, because my arguments are not attacked and because his arguments are not defended or suitable for this resolution, we must negate.
Debate Round No. 2


Sorry for not posting in round two... I had the flu...

I will begin by first rebuilding the Affirmative case and then attacking the Negative case.

Criterion: the Idea of preservation of Democracy s the most valid for purpose of this debate because the highest form of justice that can be achieved in a democratic society is the preservation of that society. Also in order to pass a just law it must work towards the betterment of society and that is essentially preservation of society and in a democracy the society is democratic then we must preserve democracy.

1st contention

I will point out once again the Exoneration rate. over 70% of all Exonerated felons are Black. Also the arrest rate is 8.2 times higher. this points to a racially prejudice judiciary that would wrongfully disenfranchise a race of people, which would go against every democratic code in this country.

2nd contention
Again the resolution states "in a democratic society" we are not the only democratic society so UN proclamations must be considered. Also we are a signatory member of these documents acknowledging there legality in this country.
Humans are rational beings and therfore capable of rational though. as the Negative has shown to evidence to support there idea the point is invalidated.

3rd contention
The resolution states democratic society so other countries are applicable. invalidating the negative point and allowing the contention to stand.

Now I will attack the Negative case.

Criterion: The stated negative criterion is of retribution is invalid as it does not fulfill justice. The idea of retribution is the classic eye for an eye principle. however in this case even that principle is invalid. How does a idea of disenfranchisement for possession of drugs promote justice? It doesn't not even by the negative standards, Because there is no way the punishment for drug addiction, a disease of sorts, can be punishable by denying the right to participate in society. as I stated in my opening quote "felons have fully payed their debt to society" so the idea of further retribution hinders the rehabilitation process.

1st contention. The form of retribution is the prison sentence and because they have already payed thier debt to society no more retribution is needed. So we would not be condoning felony we would simply be protecting the rights of all citizens. The exclusion of one group because of how they would vote is an unjust and unlawful practice proving this contention invalid.

2nd contention
In this contention the negative seems to assume that felns always violate the right to life, this is not the case. A felon convicted of drug use is not harming any other person. Also a habitual drug user has a sort of disease from continued use and cannot be punished for his disease. So the Negative advocates and unequal system of retribution that punishes more severely than the measure of the crime.

Primary Voting Issues...
Criterion of Preservation of democracy--I have proved that this is the superior voting criterion and therefore we must adhere to it
Impact of Democracy--As I have proved disenfranchisement has a lagre negative effect of democracy which does not fulfill the criterion and therefore does not promote justice.

Secondary issues..( not to be overlooked)
All points and contentions


I will begin by attacking my opponent's case.

Value: Both parties have agreed to justice as the accepted value for this debate.

Criterion: Although I agree that for a democratic society to exist we must preserve it, that does not in any way make his criterion superior to my own. In order to preserve democracy certain actions must be taken. These actions would fall under my criterion, retribution, and thus makes my criterion superior to my opponents.

1st Contention: Racism

First of all, America should not be discussed in a societal debate. But even then, there is no correlation between the exoneration demographics and racism. The only obvious correlation I see is that more black people commit crimes than white people, and because there is a smaller black population in America the per capita arrest rate is much, much higher than the white people's respective arrest rate.

2nd Contention: UN's Advice

Again, the UN has no pertinence to a societal debate, but even then I will still rebut your claim. America is an independent sovereign nation, and as such should look within for governmental advice rather than to others. Other nations inherently want to claim superiority over us, so taking there advice would be detrimental to our nation as a whole.
However, even if we were to listen to the UN, we must realize that they pose an ideal system. Ideally, rehabilitation should be valued over retribution. But because rehabilitation is impossible with humanity because of human nature, we must dismiss it as a possible course of action.

3rd Contention: If everyone else is doing it, we should too

Again, temporal affairs should not be discussed in a societal debate, but I will still rebut your claim. As a society, it is the government's responsibility to uphold justice. In order for this to occur, certain actions must be taken. If a criminal is given the right to vote, it speaks poorly of our society's ability to govern. Of course all citizens of a democratic society should be given the right to vote and participate in said government. But if one infringes on another's rights, then we must take proper action. For instance, in a democratic society, one should be able to do anything. But then chaos would erupt. So we decide that one can do anything as long as it doesn't infringe on another's right to do anything. So, a felon is someone who has violated another's right, why should he be able to participate in the society he clearly disobeyed and disrespected?

Now I will defend my own case.

Criterion: Retribution does form justice and order within a society. Retribution can be any action to balance another action. For instance, if one steals a car, we do not steal his car to fulfill our society's burden, we simply incarcerate him for a certain amount of time. The eye for an eye philosophy is actually extremely important for a society to uphold justice. Without retribution, nothing would deter crime. I could simply kill you, because my rights would not be jeopardized in the process. Fear is the best deterrent, and so retribution is necessary to uphold justice, which would in turn preserve democracy.

1st Contention: Maintaining order

Please do not bring your treason to this debate. The government is clearly not racist, and I am tired of talking about it at this point in the debate. The act of temporary imprisonment is just that, temporary. If I told you that if you stole 500 dollars out of my wallet, I would force you into time out for 5 minutes, would you try and take the money? What if I was gone and there was little chance you would be caught? Now ask yourself the same questions if the punishment was 5 minutes in time out and you were not allowed to own a house for the rest of your life. You could substitute nearly any action into phrase "own a house" and the fact that that action lasts a lifetime makes it an enormous burden. So, the act of permanent disenfranchisement actually does deter crime.

2nd Contention: Social Contract

Although I use the act of murder as an example, it is not the only criminal action that constitutes the removal of one's rights. In fact, just by the word criminal the action is already known to violate another's rights. Drug use may seem like a "victimless" offense, but several people are being hurt. You are becoming useless to society as you will not be able to function normally. Also, your friends and family will be devastated, and any immediate family or spouses will reap the financial detriments that are soon to follow with drug addiction. Also, violating any law is against the overall preservation of a democratic society as people directly or indirectly voted those laws into existence. By violating society, your own rights should be respectively violated.

Voting Issues:
1. I have proven that my criterion (Retribution) is superior to my opponent's criterion (Preservation of Democracy) because retribution is needed to insure the preservation of democracy.
2. My criterion better supports the accepted value of justice.
3. His ENTIRE case is based on temporal affairs, which should be dismissed in a societal debate.
4. Rehabilitation is inherently inferior to retribution as rehabilitation is inherently impossible to utilize within a society.
5. Every action requires a counter action for order to be maintained, which is the highest goal of society.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Metz 7 years ago
haha I really want to start another debate as NEG on this topic.... I think it will be fun...
Posted by funnybrad333 7 years ago
rofl good one
Posted by Mangani 7 years ago
Before debate: Pro
I firmly believe a democratic society is not truly democratic if felons are not offered in the very least a path to regaining the right to vote.

After debate: Pro
Con failed to convince me otherwise.

Conduct: Tie
I almost gave the point to Con after Pro forfeited R2, but Con used R3 to attack Pro as treasonous, and rather than arguing points had a lot of judgments and attacks against Pro. Neither had good conduct. Pro because he forfeited a round, Con because he was rude and condescending.

Spelling/Grammar: Tie
No problems stood out to me.

Convincing arguments: Pro
Though I disagree with Pro's line of attack, his arguments were better formulated and supported his premise. Con failed to address certain points, and made a lot of assumptions and personal judgments rather than arguing the facts.

Sources: Tie
No sources were cited by either party.
Posted by Ethanthedebater1 7 years ago
But the US is the only nation that does this. Depending on your judge, you can get away with it if you stick in an observation limiting to the US.
Posted by LightCirro 7 years ago
Just as an observation. Affirmative, your case lies heavily on US specifics, whereas the resolution states "A democratic society" this not specific to the US. Therefore, you contentions regarding unjust application that occurs in the US should be dropped by any sane judge since it only proves the resolution true within a US context.
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