The Instigator
TheNamesFizzy
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
AbandonedSpring
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

In the United States of America we ought to allow prisoners to vote for candidates

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
TheNamesFizzy
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/29/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,074 times Debate No: 66039
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (3)

 

TheNamesFizzy

Pro

First round acceptance.
AbandonedSpring

Con

I accept, thanks for starting this debate!
Debate Round No. 1
TheNamesFizzy

Pro

Observations: Ought is defined as moral obligation. In this circumstance, morality should be determined on a utilitarian outlook that benefits the democracy itself. Through my three contentions I will prove that not allowing prisoners to vote threatens this utilitarian outlook.

C1- Not allowing prisoners to vote threatens governmental legitimate in a democracy:

First, we need to define governmental legitimacy. According to John Locke, in the hypothetical "state of nature" that precedes the creation of human societies, men live "equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection," Locke proceeded to write that a legitimate government is "consented to make one Community or Government " wherein the Majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.". In order to truly determine the wishes of the majority of people, we must also include prisoners.

The appeal of democracy is that it seeks to represent all minorities and individuals in the government. This allows for no discrimination against ethnicity, socioeconomics, and, in this case, prisoners. Prisoners are still citizens of the U.S government and therefore, they still require representation in voting in order to keep the system legitimate. This virtuous cycle is essential to democracy. In fact, it's the whole point of a democratic republic in the first place. We want people to vote because in a democratic republic every viewpoint contributes something important to the marketplace of ideas. So when convicted felons and prisoners get to vote, they add yet another voice to our democracy. And that's good for everyone.

C2- Voting is a right that's granted to all American citizens:

The argument that allowing prisoners to vote would be costly and impractical is ethically unjustifiable. Similarly, the fact that prisoners lose many freedoms does not imply they should lose all their civil rights. Denying prisoners the right to vote is likely to undermine respect for the rule of law. Allowing prisoners to vote, by contrast, may strengthen their social ties and commitment to the common good, thus promoting legally responsible participation in civil society. and promoting my utilitarian outlook on the resolution.

C3- Offers a form of "rehabilitation," if you will:

When people vote, they feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves. They feel like they're part of the nation. They know that they have a say in the way things are run in this country. At some point, most felons will leave prison and re-enter everyday society. As we prepare them for everyday life outside of a prison cell or a jail-yard, we have to make them feel like they're an essential part of the community before letting them free. When prisoners can vote while behind bars, that's one more reason for them to feel like they're still part of the outside world and one less reason for them to feel alienated and break the law again.

Sources:
- John Locke: http://www.britannica.com...
AbandonedSpring

Con

In a society based on republicanism, we elect officials to vote for us. This is know as the electoral college. These candidates are essentially elected to vote vote for us. It would be enormously inappropriate to elect officials through people who have broken the system.

When someone commits a crime, yes the action is committed to the victim, but the crime is also reflected upon in the society. We now have to take care of the prisoner. The prisoner is now essentially a burden on society. If prisoners are apparently more capable of making poor decisions, then why should they help decide the fate of America?

Next, why do we not allow children to vote? We don't allow children to vote because we do not trust their judgement. Why are the mentally incompetent not allowed to vote? We don't allow the mentally incompetent to vote because we do not trust their judgement.

Why do we not allow prisoners to vote?

We don't allow prisoners to vote because we do not trust their judgement.

Also, why would prisoners care who's in office? If i'm in prison serving 35 years for murder, the president of the united states is irrelevant. As long as there are 3 square meals a day, a prisoner has no real reason to have a legitimate vote. Also, as we are all aware, prisons are notorious for gangs. Who's to say a gang who is already inside the prison would not give a reward to prisoners for voting for their selected candidate?

You talk about how it's essentially unconstitutional that prisoners lose rights. If it's so bad the CONVICTED felons lose freedoms, then why hasn't America stopped and paid attention to the students who are not guaranteed 100% of their rights. Under your argument, why should murderers, thieves, and rapists have more rights than students?

52% of released prisoners return. Prison as of right now is not about fixing people. It's about punishment. If prisoners want the right to vote so bad, they should not break the law. We cannot forget that prison is not supposed to equate to the outside world of freedom.

"we have to make them feel like they're an essential part of the community before letting them free. "

Prisoners are not a part of the community. That's why they are secluded in jailhouses.

"that's one more reason for them to feel like they're still part of the outside world and one less reason for them to feel alienated and break the law again."

If you can give me statistics, this argument stands. Otherwise, it's irrelevant.

Thanks

http://www.crimeinamerica.net...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
TheNamesFizzy

Pro

I thank Con for presenting well thought out arguments! As a brief roadmap, I will be addressing all the points presented by my opponent.

"It would be enormously inappropriate to elect officials through people who have broken the system."

This is an interesting statement. I must ask the question, if it's enormously inappropriate then why are they ever allowed to vote upon being released from prison? Under that logic, you believe any individual that has been to prison should never vote. Regardless, even if an individual has broken the "system" I am going to argue representation is more important than suppressing their right to vote. The whole idea of democracy is for everyone's voice to be heard, even if we might not trust their judgement. We see many unintelligent voters all the time, however, this does not mean we ought to suppress their vote. This would be reverting back to the times where only certain sections of society could vote...ie. Rich white men who owned land.

"We now have to take care of the prisoner. The prisoner is now essentially a burden on society. If prisoners are apparently more capable of making poor decisions, then why should they help decide the fate of America?"

First of all, most prisoners are going to be released at some point (very few life in prisons in comparison). Would you suggest they gain no knowledge of politics while in prison? Second, you talk about how they are a burden on society, and to an extent I agree. However, the election of a president can still directly affect their lives. You see, the problem with suppressing a minority (even if that minority happens to be in a prison), is that it can lead them subject to potential harms. Such as an increase in harshness of sentences changes in the death penalty, etc. Not to mention, once they are released that president could also affect their lives for 4 more years.

"We don't allow prisoners to vote because we do not trust their judgement."

You talk about the examples of children and the "mentally incapable." In the case of children I would agree with you, they chose the age 18 to wait for the kid to be mature, but this is because children are already receiving representation by their guardians -- thus protecting them. Prisoners don't have this luxury. I'm assuming you mean mentally handicapped, in which case, these people literally cannot vote. It's not that we don't trust their judgement; it's that they literally cannot exercise their right to vote. Unintelligent people are allowed to vote so we can receive better representation, same thing with prisoners.

"If prisoners want the right to vote so bad, they should not break the law. Prisoners are not a part of the community. That's why they are secluded in jailhouses."

What? Do you suggest all rights being stripped? Flawed logic.

I was talking about once they are released. I would argue, releasing the prisoners into a society where they can't feel accepted results in the cycle of going back to prison again
AbandonedSpring

Con

"This is an interesting statement. I must ask the question, if it's enormously inappropriate then why are they ever allowed to vote upon being released from prison?"

Prisoners are in prison for a reason. Once there time is up, so is their punishment. When the punishment is over, their rights shall be returned.

"The whole idea of democracy is for everyone's voice to be heard, even if we might not trust their judgement"
"Like I stated earlier. Prisoners commit the crime to society as a whole, so they don't really care for a society. Also, democracy is irrelevant, since America is not a true democracy. In a republic, we elect officials to vote for us. (Electoral college).

"First of all, most prisoners are going to be released at some point (very few life in prisons in comparison). Would you suggest they gain no knowledge of politics while in prison? "
I do not want to withhold info. They have access to news. But there is no real point to them voting because when you go to prison, you are typically there for a while. You don't go to prison for 3 months. If you are sent to prison, we are talking in term,s of years.

"However, the election of a president can still directly affect their lives."
Not in prison. I can imagine many prisoners don't care. They are not directly affected because they are always put in the lowest tax bracket.

You agreed with my argument with children and handicapped people. I see no difference in children in prisoners. They both eventually gain the right to vote, and you essentially agreed to both sides in that statement.

"What? Do you suggest all rights being stripped? Flawed logic."

I never said anything close to this. Prisoners are not guaranteed all of their rights. Similarly to how students lose some rights. My argument of this stands because you dropped this argument.

"When prisoners can vote while behind bars, that's one more reason for them to feel like they're still part of the outside world and one less reason for them to feel alienated and break the law again."

Also, you failed to prove this from the last round, so this is officially invalid.

You also dropped my argument where I talked about how gangs could influence the prisoner vote.

You dropped my argument talking about how it is not unconstitutional for prisoners to lose a few rights, because students justifiably lose a few rights in school.

You also dropped my argument talking how prisoners likely will return to prison.

You dropped my rebuttal talking about how prisoners are not a part of society, mainly because prison is meant to seclude them.

Thanks
Debate Round No. 3
TheNamesFizzy

Pro

"Prisoners are in prison for a reason. Once there time is up, so is their punishment. When the punishment is over, their rights shall be returned."

You refer frequently to how they lose rights in prison, which is true, but then I must ask the question, what rights may or may not be taken from prisoners? Where do we draw the line? This is where we draw it, the rights we do restrict from prisoners is to directly help the well-being and safety of other individuals by keeping them contained. Allowing them to vote is NOT directly hurting another individual, but instead, allows them to enter the realm of politics and be represented

"America is not a true democracy"

The reason we have the electoral college is to accurately represent the people. Democracy is not irrelevant because the United States is a democratic republic, which means the citizens still elect officials to make decisions.

"You don't go to prison for 3 months."

Since when? People can go to prison for 6 months etc.

"You agreed with my argument with children and handicapped people. I see no difference in children in prisoners."

I already refuted this point. Children have representation because of their guardians. Representation helps protect them from having rights violated. Because the guardians generally have best interest in mind, they will vote for the candidate that ensures safety for their children. Prisoners do not have this luxury. They have no representation to protect them from potential harm.

"Also, you failed to prove this from the last round, so this is officially invalid."

It's not a statement that requires proving. It's not stating there is a decrease in crime; all that claim was stating was that they have one less reason for them to feel alienated.

My opponent than proceeds to the "drops" which are absolutely false. Judges, look back and refer to my arguments, I have addressed all but one of these points my opponent claims as "drops." And that is the gang argument which my opponent never proved as a significant threat.

Voter Issues:

1. My opponent never addresses that representation is important for protection of the individuals and for protecting minority rights. Prisoners are, in fact, a minority, therefore allowing them to vote can protect them from potential harm. This is key in this debate as I explain why representation is important in a democracy, or in this case, a democratic republic

2. Just because prisoners lose some rights, does not mean they lose all rights. She consistently says they lost their rights because they committed a crime. However, the only rights they actually have lost are the ones preventing them from DIRECTLY hurting other individuals. That is why they are in prison.

3. She consistently compares children and the mentally handicapped to prisoners. As I've previously stated, this simply does not apply. Mentally handicapped literally cannot exercise right to vote and children have representation because of their guardian.

I affirm.
AbandonedSpring

Con

"what rights may or may not be taken from prisoners? Where do we draw the line? "

You overcomplicated this. We are necessarily taking away rights, just limiting them. Like in schools, student still have the freedom of speech, but there is some sort of suppression. It's really quite simple.

"The reason we have the electoral college is to accurately represent the people. Democracy is not irrelevant because the

United States is a democratic republic, which means the citizens still elect officials to make decisions."
That is not the reason. The electoral college was established in the 12th amendment. It was established because we could not possibly count everybody in America's vote in one day. Pick up a history book before you make assumptions.

"Since when? People can go to prison for 6 months etc."

No honey, you go to jail for 6 month terms. Prison is where you go for real crime.

"I already refuted this point. Children have representation because of their guardians. Representation helps protect them from having rights violated. Because the guardians generally have best interest in mind, they will vote for the candidate that ensures safety for their children. "

This rebuttal was a mess. Children have no representation in court. My parents don't speak on my behalf. I have different thoughts, different ideologies. Also, representatives give no protection. That is the constitution and the judicial branches job.

"It's not a statement that requires proving. It's not stating there is a decrease in crime; all that claim was stating was that they have one less reason for them to feel alienated."

I say that statement is not true. You have no evidence supporting. Therefore, it is invalid.

My opponent failed to accurately argue all of my points. Several of my points were dropped. I'm assuming that since they were dropped, he must agree with them.

"My opponent never addresses that representation is important for protection of the individuals and for protecting minority rights. "

Thats because it's not. I have no representation, and I'm great. The supreme court has ruled several times on the rights of prisoners and student alike.

"Just because prisoners lose some rights, does not mean they lose all rights. She consistently says they lost their rights because they committed a crime. "

I'm not saying that. I'm saying that there rights are just not as apparent. Similar to how students don't have 100% of all their rights.
" Mentally handicapped literally cannot exercise right to vote and children have representation because of their guardian."

You took this argument out of context. I was painting a picture. All 3 bodies are not allowed to vote for the same reason. While they are different, they are united. Also, my friend with autism could easily click a button. It's the influence I put on him that would lead to his decision.
Thanks
http://www.dummies.com...
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheNamesFizzy 2 years ago
TheNamesFizzy
Obviously, but in states such as Maine they simply have polls in the prison. It doesn't require you to leave to vote for a candidate.
Posted by akeck25 2 years ago
akeck25
Allowing them to travel is a danger to society. Keeping them confined in a prison helps protect the people. They have no right to go to the polls because they cant leave the prison. People don't come door to door asking you to vote.you have to to physically go to a building where the voting is taking place. People in prison have lost their freedom to go where the please.
Posted by TheNamesFizzy 2 years ago
TheNamesFizzy
I had a different intrepretation. I said we draw the line at the rights we must take away to protect other individuals. The rights we take away from prisoners is to protect other people, and allowing them to vote is not directly hurting another individual person.
Posted by akeck25 2 years ago
akeck25
I agree. My statement about it costing money wasn't very accurate. I did notice in your argument that you said "where do we cross the line?" If a person commits a crime and is sentenced to prison, he is secluded from the rest of the world. He, or she, cannot leave the jail. If you have lost your freedom to travel, and you have lost your freedom to go to the polls. People don't come to you for your vote. you have to go yourself.
Posted by TheNamesFizzy 2 years ago
TheNamesFizzy
It's not about how many people will vote in prison; it's about having the ability to exercise their right to vote if they have the wishes too. Spend the money to let them vote? The money it takes to register a vote is rather insignificant second of all, again, it's not about how many people vote, it's about them having to exercise the right if they want to. Also, please do not vote on your personal opinion on the subject, vote on the actual arguments and logic presented in the debate rounds.
Posted by akeck25 2 years ago
akeck25
I just wanted to input a little into this debate. For the 2012 presidential election, only 54.87% of eligible voters actually voted. We don't allow prisoners to vote because it would just be a big waste of time. Almost no one in a prison is going to want to vote. It would be much easier to not let them vote and not spend the money to let them vote. If barely half of the free people vote, what makes you think that enough imprisoned people will vote?
Posted by TheNamesFizzy 2 years ago
TheNamesFizzy
I must say, I do regret limiting it to 3,000 words
Posted by cheyennebodie 2 years ago
cheyennebodie
The moment a person walks into a welfare office, he is declaring he is not responsible enough to take care of himself. That should be reason enough to restrict his voting privilege.Now once he gets back on solid ground, then he can take it up again. That is also conflict of interest. The guy on welfare will always vote for the guy that will keep the freebies coming. How is that any different than taking a bribe to vote for a candidate?
Posted by TheNamesFizzy 2 years ago
TheNamesFizzy
Obviously we only represent those that are in the country, so non-citizens of course don't vote. But the problem with that Cheyenne is when you exclude members from voting, it is not representing the citizens of the country. This undermines the whole point of a democracy.

I am of course, not going to continue the argument here...As this is the comment section.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by TheBlueWizard 2 years ago
TheBlueWizard
TheNamesFizzyAbandonedSpringTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: None of the failures of the Affermative were as large as the Negative's failure to properly address the lack of minority vote in regards to prisoners. The Aff used John Locke, the Neg used Wikipedia. Also the Neg had a rather condicending "honey" in there.
Vote Placed by Jzyehoshua 2 years ago
Jzyehoshua
TheNamesFizzyAbandonedSpringTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Both sides actually have some points. There is a degree of crime, particularly abuse of the public trust, where one by harming the rights of others forfeits their own rights to impact the public sphere. Both seemed to agree that once the sentence is up and they have served their time, they get their rights back, no double jeopardy. However, I found Con's original arguments that actions should have consequences and a felon's judgment is untrustworthy particularly effective. Kudos to both sides for an informed debate however.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
TheNamesFizzyAbandonedSpringTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I think pro managed to successfully refute con's arguments about being mentally handicapped, and his point about prisoners not losing all of their rights remained un-refuted.