The Instigator
Pro (for)
12 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
15 Points

Post-retributive felonial disenfranchisement in the United States should be abolished.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/1/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,951 times Debate No: 11558
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (6)




The Affirmative advocates that citizens convicted of felonies under the legal system who have subsequently fulfilled all allotted punishment requirements, including jail time, parole, probation, etc. should regain their right to participate in the American democratic process.

Throughout this discussion, felons who meet the above criteria shall be referred to in shorthand as "ex-felons". "Felon(y) disenfranchisement" will also be used to refer to the resolutional topic.

Under the status quo, Kentucky and Virginia impose lifelong disenfranchisement punishments against persons convicted of felonies. Other states deny felons the right to vote for various lengths of time after their punishments have been fulfilled. The Affirmative argues that the continued withholding of democratic rights is an arbitrary obstruction to the operation of the democratic process.

Natural rights are characterized by man's inherent nature as a political animal, a social animal, a property-owning animal, and a maker of things. Any necessity directly arising from these characteristics, or from a necessity to life and self-preservation, thus falls under the category of natural rights. Theories of retributive justice concern what action should be taken if one's natural rights are violated by a third party and to what extent the rights of the third party can be violated in the cause of justice.

The United States operates as a representative democracy, and as a result, citizens must maintain the right to participate in the democratic process in order to operate as political animals within the current system.

When a person commits a felony, the criminal relinquishes certain rights in the name of communal protection. That is, the system of justice takes appropriate measures in order to assure that the criminal does not harm society or violate the rights of members of society. The system of justice determines the level of punishment required according to the severity of the crime; if it does not fulfill this task then it cannot claim to uphold justice.

Once the criminal has fulfilled their punishments, they are released back into society. The justice system gives implicit consent that the criminal is ready to function within society: if they still posed threat to society, they would obviously remain incarcerated. However, felon disenfranchisement continues to restrict citizens from participating in society. Because the right to vote within a democracy is a direct extension of man's rights as a political animal, the continued disenfranchisement of ex-felons stands as an unjust and unneeded barrier that impedes the direct appropriation of justice and obstructs the reintegration of the criminal back into the social fabric.

Regardless of whether the job of the criminal justice system is primarily a retributive or protective one, felon disenfranchisement only constitutes an arbitrary obstacle to democracy and obstruction of natural rights.

This shall stand as the primary thesis for my position, although additional points will certainly arise from this central argument. I await my opponent's response.



I thank my opponent for issuing this challenge and will begin by addressing several preliminary issues we need to cover before we can fully understand the main points of contention.

First and foremost, the rights given to the citizens of the United States are not explicitly "natural rights". That is, the constitution does not respect natural rights above law. This is evidenced by the fact that there are limitations to the practice of our freedom, most of which are sacrifices made willingly in order to protect society. While we as the citizenry may speak of natural rights since our country was founded on related philosophies, my opponent cannot simply assume that this philosophy can overrule American law. If my opponent wishes to argue that the disenfranchisement of ex-felons violates natural human rights, my opponent must first explain as an introductory note, why the philosophy of natural rights should supercede that of American Law, which includes modifiers to the "natural right" philosophy intended to offer security in exchange for some freedom. While it is convenient to speak of natural rights as what should be the ultimate good, my opponent has not set forth any argument saying that this philosophy of "natural rights" holds any weight. He simply assumes that this arbitrary moral code should be the basis for what is deemed right and wrong.

However, let us assume that my opponent's notion of "natural rights" as the basis for morality is accepted, just for the purposes of this introductory round. My opponent argues that all citizens, ex-felons included, have the natural right to vote. Do they not also have the right to escape incarceration? What natural law, carved upon a large rock or tree, states that men have the right to vote, but not the right to deny people the ability to throw him in a jail cell for his actions? Where is the basis for these assumptions?

And even if my opponent can reconcile these two points, there is another issue that must be resolved. My opponent's main argument is the notion that after a prisoner is released, he has served his punishment and thus, deserves all the rights he lost while incarcerated. Sex offenders, by law, are required to live a very restricted life once they are convicted. See Megan's Law:'s+Law

Under my opponent's argument, convicted sex offenders, once released from prison, should be able to freely move to a different neighborhood and practice as a babysitter, daycare operator, dance instructor, masseuse, etc. without ever telling his new neighbors what had happened before. Should this be allowed? Should we tear down the registry of sex offenders just because it violates my opponent's description of natural rights?

The answer is no, because the laws that withhold the rights of felons after their release, much like Megan's Law, are essentially part of the penalty for their crime. There is nothing in law limiting the types of punishment issued by the court solely to incarceration. Release of a convict from jail indicates nothing about the crime being wiped away, only that the incarceration part of the punishment is over. As such, this is absolutely not a violation of natural rights unless my opponent is willing to argue that every form of punishment is a violation of natural rights.

Thank you, I await my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 1


-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, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

These words, of course, can be found in the Declaration of Independence, a document exerting massive influence on contemporary theories of law, finding special application in the United States. This passage makes it clear that the government is established to protect the natural rights of its citizens.

Natural law is derived from the nature of man; that is, natural law acknowledges that in order for man to function in society, their rights as as self-protective, property-owning animals must be maintained. If a government does not uphold these standards, then they have ceased to be a just government.

This, coincidentally, is why the Civil Rights movement was such a significant issue. While blacks had been freed from servitude, the law continued to arbitrarily conflict with their rights to exist as social and political animals within a democracy. The restoration of these rights through the granting of their right to vote served as a striking example of how important it is that man's right to exist a a political animal is maintained.

My opponent's link to Megan's law is unfortunately broken. The definition of Megan's Law from Wikipedia is "an informal name for laws in the United States requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders."

My opponent must elaborate on how this conflicts with a person's natural rights as a social, political, and property-owning animal or as a maker of things. The dissemination of information regarding a person's crime is not in conflict with any of these rights. Furthermore, the effectiveness of such laws has been proven to be negligible. (Zgoba, Witt, Dalessandro, Veysey 2008.)

When we consider the issue before us today, we must look towards either the retributive or protective theories of justice to determine why these persons were incarcerated.

According to the retributive theory of justice, criminals are punished in order to "teach them a lesson". Incarceration and other restrictive forms of punishment are tantamount to deterrence for committing a crime and as a method of discouraging recidivism in released felons.

According to the protective/social contract theory of justice, criminals are punished in order to protect the community. Punishment once again protects society by acting as a deterrent for crime and also seeks to remove criminals from society until they have been naturalized enough to successfully assimilate back into society.

According to the protective theory of justice, post-retributive withholding of natural rights is counterproductive to the goal of integrating the released prisoner back into society (see below). A person's natural rights are only obstructed in the first place in order to protect the natural rights of society at large, and when these rights are restored it is implied that the criminal can responsibly use these rights to contribute to society.

My opponent may argue that disenfranchisement acts as a deterrent for crime. This fails on two counts, the first being that there is no link between felon disenfranchisement and recidivism (Uggen, Manza 2007). The second point is that is has been demonstrated that of the small percentage of released felons who choose to participate in the democratic process actually have substantially lower rates of recidivism than those who either do not regain their voting rights or who choose not to vote (Chin 2007).

Ultimately, systems of justice only restrict natural rights in order to protect those rights as held by the innocent public. Post-retributive disenfranchisement not only constitutes an arbitrary restriction of natural rights, but it is proven to be contradictory to the principles on which it was established.


I thank my opponent for his prompt response.

Ladies and gentlemen, please do not be fooled by what my opponent has posted. In attempting to illustrate the "validity" of his natural rights argument, my opponent has included a section from the Declaration of Independence. He tries to justify this by saying that it "exerts massive influence on contemporary theories of law", but neglects to include the very important fact that the Declaration is in no way an official document of law. Our official document of law is the Constitution, not the Declaration. My opponent then argues from the Declaration as if though it were a textbook or legal document when in reality, it is nothing more than an opinion paper.

My opponent is arguing that according to his philosophy of "natural rights", certain things ought not to be. He states that a government that does not uphold this philosophy is unjust. According to whom? I have asked him to justify the use of that philosophy in determining what ought or ought not to be and he has failed to do so. I hope that in the next round, he will be able to convince me that there is some legitimate reason outside of speculation and opinion, why we should use the philosophy of "natural rights" as a moral yardstick.

Let us assume, however, that my opponent's focus on natural rights is legitimate and I concede that we should take the notion of natural rights into account. How exactly does this represent an infringement of natural rights? Where is it stated that the right to vote is guaranteed at birth to every man and woman? And as I said before, if it is an infringement to take away the right to vote from someone who betrayed society through crime, would it not be an infringement even to incarcerate someone? It may be wrong to deny someone the right to participate democratically because of race, since we have no choice in the matter. However, this denial is different in the case of convicts. Ex-felons *chose* to commit crimes, and understood the risks and the penalties associated with betraying society.

I apologize, apparently formats links containing apostrophes incorrectly. However, the wikipedia definition is suitable.

Megan's Law is similar to the voting restrictions of ex-felons in that they are punishments that go beyond release from prison. Sex offenders are forced to reveal themselves in the community they relocate to, and are tracked in a database. This is a stark contrast in the amount of privacy that is afforded to any law-abiding citizen. My opponent says that according to his arbitrary moral scale of "natural rights", this dissemination of information is fine. However, I would think that crimes of the past that have been "paid for" should remain private, especially when it can be held against the individual and lead to a great decrease in his social, political, and property-owning life. As for my opponent's assertion that a study has "proven" that Megan's Law is ineffective, I respond with a quote from Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." My opponent has fallen headfirst into the last of the three.

This is the actual study. For those who have read and analyzed the actual study, it can be noted that there are too many errors for this study to be legitimate, despite its claims. Not only that, they devoted 8 pages out of 42 (almost 1/5) to discussing how their study and their results may have been flawed. These include a variety of variables they did not bother to control (such as general downward trend, reluctance to report, etc. since it was a cohort study), as well as a statistically insignificant sample size. The report had so much room for error, they did not even know which way the bias might have tilted! So no, this study proved nothing, contrary to what my opponent said.

My opponent spends the rest of his time introducing some concepts and phrases to frame a preliminary argument against the use of this as a deterrent. However, since I have not used this argument, nor do I intend to use this argument, the latter chunk of my opponent's argument can be ignored.


To sum up, none of what I brought up in the first round was satisfactorily answered by my opponent. I will provide a list of issues we need to clear up.

1. Show that the western philosophy of "natural rights" is a legitimate moral scale to use. Is there any objectivity to this whatsoever, or is this just an arbitrary moral scale you choose to interpret however you see fit?

2. Illustrate the difference between the right to vote and the right not to be held against your will. According to you, it is wrong to infringe on the former, but not the latter.

3. What are the repercussions to this disenfranchisement, how is this an illustration of a moral wrong, and what benefits are there to overturning these restrictions?

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


When analyzing this round we must first address the recurring issue of natural rights and its application to the law. My opponent asserts that the Declaration of Independence holds no official legal bearing. Through this reasoning my opponent fallaciously dismisses the legal philosophy of natural rights in this entirety. Of course such reasoning is actually devoid of reason. For instance, there is no law forbidding my from lying to my mother, but this fact does not make such an act acceptable. Likewise, there have been and are such thins as unjust laws. Obvious examples include the institutionalization and regulation of slavery. There are also such things as unjust systems of governance, exemplified by Nazi Germany, pre-fall Soviet Russia, etc.

The fact that we can point towards such obvious examples of unjust regimes or laws shows us that a just law derives legitimacy from something other than government rule. This standard is ultimately that of natural rights. A government cannot be declared just if it dehumanizes its constituents.

The exception, however, constitutes the majority of our criminal justice system. Natural rights do not exist to the extent that they violate the natural rights of another. That is, I may hold the right to liberty, but that right does not extend to my being able to endanger the life of another. The job of the criminal justice system is to arrange reparations whenever a person violates the rights of another.

Of course, the main obstacle then besetting the justice system is determining what punishment is justified. Constitutional law expressly forbids cruel and unusual punishment. The government cannot in clear conscience imprison someone for life for certain crimes. This is why, after a period of time, those convicted of minor felonies are released back into society. The large section of the second round (which my opponent intentionally disregarded) served to show that the government grants implicit approval of the reinstatement of the natural rights of the felon upon release. A punishment is created to fit the crime, and once time is served, the ex-felon should be allowed to reintegrate into society. This reintegration cannot be maintained under a system that disenfranchises felons, and evidence already mentioned in previous rounds demonstrates the harms that result.

My opponent also asserts that the felons supposedly knew what they were signing on to when they committed the felony in question, and that they implicitly accepted the punishment in the criminal act. The first issue we have to address is that a possibility of prior foreknowledge does not make a punishment just. For example, several Middle Eastern countries punish minor larceny by cutting off the offender's hands. Although the thieves in question may have known of this punishment beforehand, this knowledge does not justify the punishment.

The second issue which must be tended to is that this potential foreknowledge does not apply in many cases. A 16-year old incarcerated for, say, stealing hubcaps would have his natural rights as a political animal withheld fore he was even able to experience and enjoy these rights.

Analysis of the study regarding Megan's Law can be largely disregarded. This point was only mentioned to demonstrate the dubious effectiveness of post-retributive punishment efforts. Direct application of this concept to disenfranchisement laws can be found in studies already mentioned.

Lastly, my opponent demands that I demonstrate the damages of disenfranchisement and the benefits of its removal. I would direct him to reference the studies mentioned in the previous round, which seem to have been ignored. To reiterate, disenfranchisement does not lead to higher rates of return to prison, and those felons who are allowed to participate in democracy and act upon this liberty have significantly lower recidivism rates than those who do not. This reason alone is enough to negate the resolution, as disenfranchisement laws have been shown to be both ineffective at preventing crime and an obstruction to the rehabilitation of the felon.

Ultimately, disenfranchisement laws fail on both pragmatic and ethical fronts. The Negative has not yet offered any direct opposition to these faults, and instead baselessly declares them unfounded or otherwise ignores them altogether. The resolution stands.


I greatly thank my opponent for his illuminating post.

I accept his explanation of natural rights as the philosophical/moral basis for this debate, this was exactly what I wanted to have clarified. Furthermore, my opponent also clarifies his point about the difference in his natural rights scale between incarceration and withdrawing voting ability.

Now, let us go over my opponent's "studies". My opponent quotes two studies. However, it appears that my opponent is mistaken.

I have experience evaluating clinical trials in biostatistics, but even a layperson can see that the Chin 2007 citation is not a study in any way, shape, or form. Rather, it is an opinion paper. In fact, it is an opinion paper on the first study by Uggen and Manza. The conclusion is unprofessional and based on the fact that "many Americans disagree". Hardly worthy of being called a study.

As for the Uggen and Manza study, it might take a more conditioned eye. The study has no statistical integrity whatsoever and displays all the traits I see in drug companies releasing falsified reports to promote their drugs.

First, the chart on page 6 of the study is intentionally misleading, trying to show a spike in felon voting, when the increase is merely ONE PERCENT IN TWENTY FIVE YEARS, an amount that could be attributed simply to better census-taking measures or human error.

Later on, in the actual study, the researchers admitted to a sample set of <2500 on page 8 and extended that sample to almost a size of 5 MILLION on page 17! This compounds the error to astronomical rates.

Simply put, imagine if you went and knocked on doors. You ask "Hey, is there a felon in your house?" If they say yes, you ask "Well, would they have voted?". If they say yes, then ask "Well, would they vote democratic or republican?" Take the results for 2,500 of these houses and assume that 5,000,000 felons would respond the same way.

My opponent also mentions that felons who voted seemed to have lower recidivism rates. First of all, the study does not actively study recidivism, there is only a note saying that lower recidivism rates are possible. Secondly, correlation is not causation, this is the first rule of statistics. 100% of people who drink water will eventually die, should we ban water? An alternate explanation is simply that only those felons who are actually stable enough not to violate the law again actually care enough to vote.

My opponent then breaks down his argument into just two more points:

1. The punishment of "disenfranchisement" does not fit the crime.
2. Disenfranchisement is impractical and unethical

While I agree that being forewarned of the penalty is meaningless if the punishment doesn't fit the crime, I must emphasize that my opponent has not illustrated how this disenfranchisement is a form of cruel or unusual punishment.

First, there are limits to exercising your democratic right regardless of criminal background. Just like there is a minimum age to drink, and a minimum age to join the army, as well as there is a minimum age to smoke and drive, there is also a minimum age to vote. This minimum is a restriction, a restriction set forth by society to ensure that the democratic process is accurately representative of the country.

Limiting the voting abilities of ex-felons (not misdemeanors, mind you, felonies, including but not limited to acts of burglary, rape, murder) helps in this way. Society wishes to control how it is controlled, and limiting outliers and eliminating the opinions of those it deems "harmful" is one way to do this. Just as how laws are passed on sex offenders (No one wants to live next to one, regardless of statistical data).

People have just as much natural right to smoke, drink, drive, join the army, as they do the right to vote. To deny society the ability to limit one is to risk a slippery slope for all others.

Thus, no, disenfranchisement is neither impractical nor unethical.


My opponent is the proponent and has the burden to show that we should actively do away with disenfranchisement and that it is a violation of natural rights, impractical, and unethical.

So far, my opponent has done nothing of the sort. He has attempted to show that disenfranchisement is some sort of natural right infringement, which is not the case since limitations on the right to vote exist by age, as to similar limitations for many other things such as smoking, driving, joining the army, drinking, even having sex. It is society's method of self defense. This also shows the purpose and moral reason.

Then, my opponent brings up two studies, one of which is an opinion paper and the other of which is devoid of statistical integrity. Regretfully, the vast majority of my opponent's arguments rest on that study, such as the correlation between recidivism and democratic participation, and the potential impact of ex-felon votes on the democratic process. These two points can be discarded following the poor testing methods of the researchers.

It takes more than one bad, misleading study to derive such fantastic conclusions on my opponent's part. Equivalent to stating that aliens exist because someone's friend's sister's cousin's aunt sally's pet cow saw a spaceship. The data is simply too weak for such a bold assertion, and regretfully, my opponent as the proponent, relies on this in order to be able to fulfill the burden.

I thank the audience and my opponent. I look forward to my opponent's conclusion.
Debate Round No. 3


My thanks to my opponent for a rousing debate.

The first issue which must be addressed before we can progress to our final analysis of the topic concerns the studies referenced in earlier rounds. My opponent attempts to discredit the studies in question; however, not only are the "flaws" he pointed out invalid, but the i no way relate to the issue at hand in today's debate.

First we will address the issues that my opponent has with the Uggen/Manza study. A link to the study can be found below for those who wish to analyze my opponent's refutative shortcomings firsthand.

My opponent first attempts to discredit the chart found on page six, saying that it misleadingly attempts "to show a spike in felon voting, when the increase is merely ONE PERCENT IN TWENTY FIVE YEARS".

However, when looking at the table in question, it is clear that the table actually concerns "Felon Disenfranchisement as a Percentage of the U.S. Voting-Age Population, 1974 to 2000". It shows that, as a proportion of the US voting-age population, felons have risen from about 1% to about 2.3%. Further, not only is the Negative's attempt at refutation misleading, but it has nothing to do with the issue of whether or not ex-felons should be allowed to vote.

My opponent proceeds to critique the method used to calculate the table on page 17 demonstrating the potential impact felon voting could hold. To summarize this table briefly: in 2000, released felons in the state of Florida could not vote. The survey determined that felons supposedly vote in favor of the Democratic Party and thus would have likely changed the decision in the 2000 presidential election, potentially resulting in Kerry's election instead of Bush. My opponent states that the sample size used in this calculation is too small to determine how felons across Florida would have voted. My response: So what? My opponent fails again to link his criticism to the issue of disenfranchisement. The actual issue for which I cited this essay, which was to prove that felon disenfranchisement does not deter crime, stands completely uncontested. Whether felons vote Republican or Democrat is of no weight in this debate.

We then move on to the paper by Mr. Gabriel Chin. Again, for those following along, the link is provided below.

The actual reason for which this paper was cited was to underline the fact that ex-felons exercising their democratic rights have dramatically lower recidivism rates. Chin cites the previous Uggen/Manza study for statistics but was cited due to his concise and simple analysis of these statistics.

"For those with criminal records and without, voting reduced future criminal involvement. Of those who voted in 1996, 5.2 per one thousand were arrested, and 4.7 per thousand were incarcerated in 1997-2000; of those who did not vote, the arrest rate was 15.6 per thousand and the incarceration rate 12.4 per thousand. Separating these statistics into those with and without prior criminal records showed the same effect. Of those with prior arrest records, 26.6 per thousand of non-voters were rearrested, while only 12.1 per thousand of voters were rearrested. Of those with no arrest history, 10.1 per thousand of non-voters were arrested, while only 3.5 per thousand of voters were arrested. The correlation between voting and law-abiding behavior held when using self-reports of criminal behavior: Those who voted were much less likely to admit having committed a property or violent crime for which they were not arrested than those who failed to perform their civic duty."

This evidence clearly highlights a direct relation between voting rights and low crime rates. Again the Negative ignores the sections of my citations that are actually relevant to the arguments for which they were cited.

With the issue of evidence clarified, we move on to our analysis of the topic. For a law to gain legitimacy, it must be just (through adhering to the standard of natural rights) and it must be effective (by achieving some worthwhile goal). Laws that are not just should be eliminated because they are oppressive, and ineffective laws should be eliminated because they serve no purpose, or, in the case of disenfranchisement, actually work in opposition to the principles of justice.

The opposition has agreed that a just government only violates a citizen's natural rights in protection of those of another. He has remained silent on exactly how a person's natural rights are violated through felon voting. Felons are presently allowed to vote in many states, and yet there are no instances of people being unable to function as human beings for this reason.

I later made the point that persons convicted of felonies as teenagers had no way of realizing the rights which they forfeited when committing their crime. Pro made no response.

The negative also states that a precedent is set for restricting felon's natural rights after prison through Megan's Law. When I pointed out that such laws do not violate the natural rights of the offender, he ignored the issue.

The opposition attempts to claim that disenfranchisement is set to protect democracy from "harmful" persons. He fails to elaborate on how felons "harm" democracy. In fact, this point would seem to be countered by the previous evidence considering disenfranchisement and recidivism, and by my opponent himself, who claimed that "only those felons who are actually stable enough not to violate the law again actually care enough to vote."

Persons with mental handicaps are not prohibited from voting, even though some would believe that limited decision making capabilities would "harm" democracy. In Civil War-era America blacks were denied the right to vote when many people held the opinion that blacks held lower metal capacities than white males. Voting rights for marginalized minority groups, such as blacks (previously) as well as the mentally handicapped and ex-felons (presently), are often contested on these grounds. Ultimately, however, the issue lies in the boundaries of natural rights. This standard has not been contested by my opponent. The opposition has provided no reason to believe that felons would harm democracy, but even if they did, disenfranchisement is still negated because man's rights as a political animal are defended for ex-felons just as they are for the mentally handicapped or for any other eligible citizen who is capable of exercising their natural rights.

In further support of the resolution, disenfranchisement is negated on pragmatic grounds. The possible goals of disenfranchisement that have been discussed are: as a protection of democracy, as a deterrent of crime, and as a method of controlling recidivism rates.

As already covered, there is no reason to believe that felons endanger democracy, especially because allowing felons to vote can only expand the scope of democracy. This reason is also opposed by the principle standard of natural rights.

The latter two issues have been extensively covered by research and evidence. When addressing this evidence, the opposition provides reasoning that is both inaccurate and irrelevant. This debate is not about whether or not a felon would have voted for Bush or Kerry: this debate concerns whether or not felons should have been allowed to vote in the first place. The opposition misleads the reader and fails to address the portions of evidence that actually pertain to the issue of disenfranchisement.

Ultimately, then, we come to the conclusion that the status quo fails on the front of the protection of natural rights ad on the front of effectiveness at pursuing a worthwhile goal. Addressing the former, Con fails to demonstrate how felon voting harms natural rights, and with the latter he fails to address the issue entirely. The resolution stands. Vote Affirmative.


I also thank my opponent for what has been a most enjoyable debate and how that we have a chance to do this again.

Since my opponent has structured his response mostly in dealing with my counterpoints, I shall structure the first part of this concluding round in as brief and concise a way as possible.

1. I apologize to my opponent and the audience, I meant that the graph shows a spike in *the importance* of felon voting, but this is besides the point. The people who made this chart want shock value, to show the "spike" in felon % within the voting population within 25 years would change voting outcome.

What is this spike? A measly 1.3%.

They purposely scaled it for visual effect. If they put it in a scale of 100%, it would look like a flat line. So typo aside, my opponent refused to address the key issue, which is that these researchers were misleading and lacked statistical integrity.

2. My opponent argues that I, in attacking the credibility of his source, sidestepped his point on crime deterrence.

The problem is that this entire study had absolutely nothing to do with crime deterrence. The only mention of recidivism is in the notes section of a random paragraph by one of the authors, stating that there *might* be a correlation between ex-felon voting participation and decreased recidivism. Nothing more than an opinion. The credibility of this source is completely ruined. Since this is the case, a few lines of opinion by the researcher cannot be counted as evidence.

3. In response to the Chin study, my opponent quotes a section from this paper and says that this is an analysis of the Uggen/Manza study and accuses me of not paying attention to the relevant parts of the study.

My opponent did not, however, note that the section he quoted was actually from a DIFFERENT study by the same authors, one that is actually from a book these two authors published entitled "Locked Out". My opponent, in first Citing Uggen/Manza 2007, did not specify which study as there were many. It would, of course, be reasonable that I did not cover a study that was completely different from the one my opponent intended, my opponent should have included a link the first time he referenced the study.

Regardless, in terms of the actual study, the person writing the paper seems convinced that correlation is causation. Sure, he says that 4.7 per thousand are this, and 5.2 per thousand were that, but what was the sample size?


Statistically speaking, these results are completely and totally insignificant. The writer is trying to take a biased and insignificant sample of ONE THOUSAND and apply it to the MILLIONS of ex-felons in the United States. This is, yet again, indicative of a complete lack of statistical integrity. It is akin to flipping heads on a coin and assuming that it will flip heads 4 times in a row afterwards. Sure, there is a chance, but is it a statistically reasonable conclusion? No.

Let's now take a look at the paragraph immediately following, which my opponent conveniently left out:

"The authors acknowledge that their data are suggestive rather than conclusive, and, as is characteristic of this book, they identify the potential infirmities of the hypothesis", followed by a long list of the study's flaws.

This wildly contradicts my opponent's seemingly immovable assertion that voting ex-felons definitely exhibit lower recidivism rates. We can effectively throw out my opponent's argument in this regard.

4. My opponent states that I have not provided a reason why felon voting violates rights.

Straw man. My stance is that voting is a privilege, since rights cannot be limited or taken away, but voting can. I have asked three times for my opponent to justify why voting was a natural right, since 17 year olds could not vote. He did not comply. My opponent's assertions that I have not lived up to a burden he shifted from himself onto me, are simply a ruse to avoid answering my own arguments.

As I have said, voting restrictions are set by society, for society. If society does not want ex-felons making laws, this is just as valid as the notion that society does not want 12-year old children making laws. This could only be contested on the grounds that voting is a natural right, something my opponent refused to argue three times already.



Let's wrap up.

My opponent, being the proponent, had a hefty burden. He wanted to show that:

A. Ex-Felons retain the right to vote by natural law, and there is no reason for the government to limit them.
B. Ex-Felons are less likely to undergo recidivism if given the chance to vote

For A, I have tried to get my opponent to establish that voting is a natural right, something he has turned down defending THREE times. Instead, he persists in doing nothing but asserting, ad nauseum, that is is, and then strings arguments from that assumption and accuses me of avoiding them.

The right to vote is not a natural right. It is a privilege. A natural right is life, liberty, things that cannot be taken away regardless of factors like age, sex, or creed. The right to vote is limited by age, it is not a natural right, my opponent has ignored this point.

Furthermore, I have shown that society protects itself from those who want to make laws that will affect everyone. They do not want children making laws, and they do not want ex-felons making laws. This is a decision of society.

As for B, I have painstakingly shown that each and every single argument, every source, every statistic my opponent has used, is completely devoid of statistical integrity. All the assumptions about recidivism were done on but 1000 ex felons, of which only 1-2% even showed any monitorable activity. Then, the assumptions are inflated an applied to millions of ex-felons. In fact, even the researchers questioned their validity.

My opponent had to audacity to state this complete, bumbling uncertainty as if though it were mathematical fact!

As such, my opponent has completely failed to defend his argument, and to uphold his burden. His arguments did not come full circle, his counterclaims begged notions he did not defend, he provided sources that had no credibility or statistical integrity, he has defended no positive claims, and my arguments defending the process by which society is trying to defend the way it is regulated, still stand.

I thank my opponent and the audience. This has been a spectacular debate.

Debate Round No. 4
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Posted by Sorrow 7 years ago
Posted by Ore_Ele 7 years ago
obviously being denied the right to vote is a part of the punishment, so you cannot say that the punishment has been fullfilled. Though I can see in the moral argument that it shouldn't have been a punishment to begin with.
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