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

Prisoners should be given the right to vote

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/23/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 575 times Debate No: 93018
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)




First round is for acceptance
Second is for opening arguments
Third is for rebuttal as well as any building you wish to do on your case
Final is for any final rebuttal and closing statements.

I am unfamiliar with any structure so bear with me on this one.


I'm downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.
Debate Round No. 1



So firstly today we are arguing the motion: Should prisoners be able to vote?
On my side of this, I am arguing against all prisoners voting whilst they are in jail. I have several main arguments why this should not be the case and they should be withdrawn of all and any voting rights.

1. These prisoners are no longer deemed as functioning members of society so therefore do not deserve the right to vote.
As prisoners, they are in prison for a reason. Because they are in prison this means several things: firstly, that they committed a crime so bad that the judicial system has felt the need to separate them from the rest of society. Now, this crime may be "non violent" like tax fraud or even extends to violent crimes such as aggravated assault or even murder. Regardless of this, a judge and jury has deemed them unfit to be wandering around the community and have used jail as a means of discipline, separation and rehabilitation. Because of this, there is a clear distinction between the normal, fully participating citizens that give back to society and people who sit in jail. The people who are in jail do not give back to our society in any way. Instead, they have taken away from society in general and ended up in jail. Because of this reason, they should not have the right to vote because they are not functioning citizens meaning they should not be able to have a say on what happens outside of prison let alone who the next president or political party in power should be. They don't live like normal citizens so should not get to have a say on how the government should be run.
Secondly, being in prison means they do not get the same rights as the "normal" citizen I have referenced would. We can all acknowledge that in prison, prisoners do not have all of their rights preserved. This because I believe that there are two different types of rights when it comes to situations like these. Firstly, the basic rights you need to exist and secondly your extra rights. Because prisoners are in prison they only have their basic rights which allow them to continue living, perhaps until they get out of jail relative to the offense they have committed. These include the right to food and a roof over your head and the right to clothes and a bathroom etc etc. The other set of rights are the rights a prisoner does not have because they are incarcerated and these are also quite obvious and reasonable. These include the freedom of choice, privacy, the right to travel and employment. Any normal citizen would have these rights but since they are prisoners, they have this type of "extra" right taken away from them. I believe that the right to vote comes under these rights and therefore it is unnecessary to give them this extra right while they are in jail. Because of this, we are perfectly justified to withdraw their right to vote from them.

2. This would give rise to corruption.
With a whole new group of people able to vote, this would incentivise parties or presidential candidates to make policies that appeal to prisoners. This would mean that the prisoners, their families, friends or anyone tied to the criminal lifestyle would vote for the parties or candidates that do this. Obviously, this creates an unhealthy cycle of corruption and the result of this are normal people who do not have any criminal convictions or any involvement in the criminal world getting the shorter end of the stick. Therefore, we should not give these criminals the right to vote.

3. Prisoners are usually uneducated and would not make a logical decision anyway.
With the exception of let's say, prisoners that have committed tax fraud (which is a small fraction) these prisoners typically start out with rocky beginnings. Resorting to crime from earlier on, they have a minimal education or if they do, they don't tend to care about the political system that much. They would vote for the best looking candidate or even the one that is most appealing so this is hardly an educated vote. Therefore this is the final reason why we should not give prisoners the right to vote.


My opponent starts off by saying that these humans that have been incarcerated for something we aren"t even 100% sure that they have done, are no longer people who have valid opinions.My opponent is essentiallly saying that since they have been guilty of a crime, they lose their rights. My opponent also assumes that the crime committed, is bad. And I say this because it should be obvious to everyone that just because an authority says something is bad, doesn"t mean it"s bad. Con essentially states that judge"s decisions are right, and that they dictate what is right, which is not the case. The opinions of a jury or judge saying that someone should be removed from society, does not mean that they actually should be removed from society. My opponent then makes the statement that there is difference between people who give back to society and those who are sitting in jail. But wouldn"t voting be giving back? And my opponent forgets that being a criminal and giving back to society isn"t mutually exclusive. Criminals are essentially people who makes mistakes, and isn't that part of what makes us human? There are smart people with good opinions in prison, and people with bad opinions out of prison. Therefore we can"t pick on prisoners and say that because they have maybe made a greater mistake, their opinions aren"t sound. Also I don"t know how my opponent deems what a functioning member is like, and would like my opponent to provide it. And being normal doesn"t necessarily mean good. Think of any remarkable person, let"s say Einstein, he was smart which makes him relatively above the normal.

My opponent"s next point states that there are two types of rights, those that are needed to live and those that are extra, and basically just begs the question by saying that the right to vote should not be given to them without providing any reason, and states it"s justified because they are extra rights. This fails to explain why they don"t deserve extra rights, instead it explains what kind of rights there are. Con feels that it"s justified to remove the rights of someone to voice their opinion who has made a mistake but doesn"t give a valid reason why.

Next my opponent goes on to say that prisoners being able to vote would lead to corruption. This goes back to the point that con assumes that they have not changed, or not smart, and that there aren"t people that aren't smart on the outside. Also my opponent tries to makes it seem like someone like hitler could run for president. There are of course certain restrictions on the power of the president which would not let the people of the world (not just prisoners), do another holocaust. Also my opponent assumes that there are more people who would intentionally want a corrupt president than those who don"t. Unless my opponent is claiming that prisoners are stupid, and that people outside of jail aren"t.

Nevermind, my opponent has made the point that prisoners are less educated than those who are outside. If prisoners wouldn"t care about the presidency, then they most likely wouldn"t vote. My opponent neglects that high degree criminals are smart, such as ted bundy, jack the ripper, and the zodiac killer.

Taking away the right to vote is essentially telling the prisoners that their opinion doesn"t matter because they have made a mistake and that their opinions are dumb because of said mistake. We as a just system, are suppose to not only hear the voices of the majority, but also take into consideration, that of the minority. Because it"s not always the case that the majority change things for the better. These decisions will change their life, and not letting them vote removes their ability to make it good. It"s unjust to remove the right for prisoners to be able to demonstrate their concern for future generations. The right to vote is what people in america have fought for, and have struggled through for years. By letting prisoners vote, we make the purpose of votes better, by making the votes more representative.
Debate Round No. 2


Alycat forfeited this round.


Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3


Apologies for the forfeit last round! However, now I'm back in business!
To start off: I would like to reaffirm my points and bring them back after my opponents commendable attempt at a rebuttal.
They firstly started off by saying "if they go to prison, why should they lose their rights (especially the right to opinion)?" My first response to this is that obviously, because they are in prison. As I have stated, since they are already in prison they have minimal rights and this is what the justice system has decided for them. Currently, as they are in prison, they don't even get the right to see their family everyday, let alone what they eat or wear. So as they have committed a crime, it is obvious that they do not get their full rights only very basic ones. The right to vote once again, gets withdrawn from them because it is not a basic right that they should be entitled to and is deemed a privilege as they are in prison which once again leads me to reiterate that they have committed a crime that has had a negative impact on society and has taken away another individuals rights. I firmly believe in the saying "if you can't do the time, don't do the time" as well as the fact that your rights stop where someone Else's starts.
Secondly they have raised the point of "how do you know they did the crime" and "sometimes the justice system is wrong" "sometimes judges are wrong". To step back and analyse this, there are only very RARE cases where people are imprisoned on false grounds. It's pretty easy to pinpoint who the perpetrator of a rape or armed assault is due to things like evidence and forensics. Furthermore, this goes through a court case and it would not even be taken to court without enough evidence for a judge and jury to rule that they have committed a crime worth imprisonment. In most cases, imprisonable crimes are crimes that authority and the rest of society not only deems, but knows, are bad. It's very hard to imprison someone for tax fraud, serious assault, rape and murder (imprisonable offenses) without sufficient evidence.
To reiterate my point about the difference between people free in society and people in prison and about "giving back" voting is most certainly not a form of directly giving back or contributing to society. The term 'giving back to society' in this context means they are entering the workforce or contributing to a community in some way- instead of leeching off family members from the inside of a jail cell and expecting to have a say on who the next government will be. All the while ladies and gentlemen, from the inside of the jail cell. They may not even be out by the time this government they vote for is in power. They essentially are not experiencing the experience of the people outside jail who are directly affected by their vote, trying to live vicariously through other people, which defeats the whole purpose of jail because they have been isolated from society for a reason.
Next, pro has tried to make out that some people "make mistakes". I reiterate: "if you can't do the crime, don't do the crime." If we all saw every murder or aggravated assault as a "mistake" then noone would be in the wrong and no-one would have to answer for anything. Let me give you an example: a case where a father beat his twin boys who were less than a month old, to death. (Source:
Pro expects us to view and accept this as a "mistake that makes us human". There is huge flaw in this argument and people like this deserve to be imprisoned and have minimal rights let alone the extra right to vote. The reality is, many cases to people who are in jail long enough for the elections to come by and not just under a year, have committed heinous crimes such as this one and do not deserve to have many privileges, let alone a say in who runs the outside government.
Another example: Dylann Roof aka the Charleston shooter that shot 9 African American people last year.
He deserves to be incarcerated, with all his rights taken away because he took away from society and took another person's right to live away from them. He didn't make a "huge mistake" he took actions to put himself in the position he is in and did not seek help and instead, took someone right to live away. People like this should not be given privileges like the right to vote or the right to move around freely because they committed a crime which had a devastating consequence and regardless of whether they are smart or not, they do not deserve this extra right because what they did had a rippling effect on many individuals. My point here is, that many case of people incarcerated are like this whether they have raped someone or killed someone or even committed tax fraud, they have taken away the rights of someone else and taken away from society in general and are isolated for a reason. They are not in jail to netflix and chill, they are in jail because they have negatively affected individuals, families, communities and torn them apart.

Finally to rebut my opponent's main point/s that firstly they should basically have their right to opinion preserved because of a "mistake" and secondly to preserve the democracy.
My response to the first point they brought up is that once again killing someone or raping someone cannot simply be classified as a mistake. If we take an example that con used themselves of giving high degree criminals like Ted Bundy or the Zodiac Killer, aside from the fact that they are smart, they are serial killers and psychopaths that have meticulously planned and actually enjoyed killing and torturing their victims. This proves my point that you cannot classify this as a "mistake" and no, these mistakes do not make us human because if serial killing and necrophilia are mistakes that make us human and should furthermore be pitied- then I am scared of what the world would be like if we implemented cons viewpoints. If we also implemented this idea that con has of "just because they are imprisoned they should keep their rights because they are still humans" where is the line drawn? How many people do you have to assault and rape before there is anything wrong and the only thing you should be given is empathy not punishment and rehabilitation? The underlying fact is that these people are isolated from society and not given any 'extra' rights as I aforementioned because they have taken other people's rights away with devastating effects. These extra rights cannot possibly be given to the prisoners while incarcerated because they are facing justice for their time.

To conclude pro has said "The right to vote is what people in America have fought for, and have struggled through for years" but I would like to point out that the right to justice over bloodshed, grief and trauma is something that people not only fight long and hard for, but also struggle with for years after the crime has happened. A person that has had a family member killed cannot have them back and the consequences of this are dealt with for years afterwards, even if the killer is behind bars. The last thing I would want to have as a victim of a traumatic incident such as a rape is knowing my rapist is voting and getting the sense of merging into society like "everyone else" and not really feeling the consequences of his crimes which is isolation from society. An election comes round every 3 years (in my country) and this should not be prioritised over justice and the isolation of a person who committed a felony from society (as prison does) and taking away any extra rights they may have is something they deserve as once again, one person's rights stop where another person's starts. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.


So what my opponent does to start off is beg the question. To put it simply, con needs to give a reason for why prisoners shouldn"t be able to vote and in response, con says that because they don"t deserve their extra rights. So what this leads me to ask is, why don"t they deserve their extra rights. Yes prisoners don"t have the right to see their family everyday, but does that mean that they shouldn"t have the right to vote? The justice systems are not infallible in deciding what is right or wrong. Therefore saying that because the justice system thinks this, is invalid. And I say to con again, everyone commits things that have a negative impact on society, and my opponent assumes that a crime had to do with another individual"s rights. Someone could have being doing drugs alone, but that did not infringe on anyone else's rights. Then my opponent brings up a line that I believe is really foolish, "you can't do the time, don't do the crime", because this assumes that every prisoner did a crime on purpose, and that they had a choice, and that their other option was better.

Then my opponent says, "there are only very RARE cases where people are imprisoned on false grounds", but this is equivalent to saying that not all rapes are reported, because how would you know if they weren"t reported? My opponent assumes on this point that people who have been imprisoned on false grounds, have been recognized as innocent. Con later says, "crimes that authority and the rest of society not only deems, but knows, are bad.", in which con sees something being bad as objective. Someone doesn"t know something is bad, but they can think it.

Then my opponent attempts to attack my point about prisoners giving back to society by saying giving back is, "contributing to a community in some way", but my opponent neglects that giving a vote to someone who will provide a better future, is contributing to the community. And if my opponent says that prisoners won"t vote for the right person, then she assumes ignorance in prisoners, but not in the people from the outside. Has anyone heard of the prison debaters that beat a Harvard debate team? Then my opponent says they are leeching off families, well how does that make their opinion invalid. People leech off of families outside of prison, but this doesn"t make their opinion invalid. My opponent"s point is essentially, they have done something bad, even though everyone does bad things, therefore they shouldn't lose their right to have their opinions heard. "They may not even be out by the time this government they vote for is in power." Well to this I can just simply say, what about the people that will be? Also they don"t need to be outside of jail for the effects of the president to affect them. The president could make certain regulations to prisons, which will affect the prisoners. Therefore con"s point about vicariously living, is refuted. The purpose of the prison is not to remove them from society, unless my opponent makes the point that the people in prison aren"t a society. I would rather say that the purpose is to rehabilitate them.

Then my opponent brings up the same foolish quote, after I made the point that some people make mistakes. And con states that if we saw every murder as an accident, then nothing would be punished, but i"m not saying everything is a mistake. I"m saying there are cases where it is, so therefore you would be taking away their right with no reason. Also my opponent neglects that people get punished for their mistakes. Even if it is a mistake, people do get punished. It"s not as if someone accidently murders someone in court the judge will let him go. Therefore my point that mistakes does make us human, still stands. My opponent continuously begs the question by saying prisoners shouldn"t deserve this and that, without giving actual contentions. I"m asking why they don"t deserve to be given those extra rights.

Con then goes on to say that people don"t deserve rights if they took the life of another human being and brings up the Dylan Roof example. First con says that wasn"t a mistake which I guess makes my opponent a mind reader. Someone doesn"t need to seek help for something to not be a mistake, and even if someone put himself in a situation, that doesn"t necessarily mean that this person intended for this type of outcome. The stress and certain anxieties could have turned him irrational, and make him do something he regretted. Now whether something someone did was devastating is subjective to the person, someone may say something is a big deal and someone else may not. But since it still is a negative impact on society, we judge whether a negative impact warrants for someone to take away their voice. But I point out again that everyone has some sort of negative impact on society. My opponent keeps on bringing up the point of negative impacts which I have refuted, con also brings up how they have been taken away from society but I have refuted that as well, and then says they have taken away the rights of someone else, therefore their rights should be taken away but two wrongs don"t make a right so that point is invalid.

Now, my opponent again brings up how raping or killing someone can not be counted as a mistake, but I feel like my opponent is confusing mistake with accident. Con is essentially saying that people can"t regret what they did, but as we all know is false. And my Ted Bundy example was not to prove that people can"t do mistakes regarding cases with rape and murder, but that they are criminals and smart. Again i"m not making the point that everything is a mistake, I"m making the point that prisoners can make mistakes. And my opponent essentially groups all the prisoners together by saying they are, family leechers, non mistake making, and dumb. Then con pulls out a straw man when saying, oh pro says mistakes are human, that must mean my opponent is saying rape and murder is human, which is not what I"m saying. I"m not saying that the specific acts we did is what makes us human, but I"m saying the fact that we are infallible and make mistakes, is what makes us human. Con is basically saying, if thinking is what makes us human, then thinking about raping someone is what makes us human. Con asks where is the line drawn to where we have the right to take someone's right away, I say where is the line drawn that we do? I ask my opponent if someone with an impeccable record loiters, do they really think that their right to vote should be taken away.

"The last thing I would want to have as a victim of a traumatic incident such as a rape is knowing my rapist is voting and getting the sense of merging into society like "everyone else" and not really feeling the consequences of his crimes which is isolation from society. An election comes round every 3 years (in my country) and this should not be prioritised over justice and the isolation of a person who committed a felony from society (as prison does) and taking away any extra rights they may have is something they deserve as once again" Lastly, my opponent reiterates points that I have already refuted. If my opponent thinks that the purpose of prison is to exclude someone from society, then what are the harsh conditions for and I suggest the people and voters to look up the definition of society. Then con strawmans again by saying that they wouldn"t feel right if prisoners weren"t having the consequences for their actions, which is assuming that the only consequence they get is their right to vote taken away, which is not the case. And again begs the question by saying prisoners do not deserve extra rights, without saying why and me not refuting it. In conclusion, my opponent makes tremendous generalizations and assumptions, as well as making strawman"s.
Debate Round No. 4
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Mysery 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro gets conduct because of Con's forfeit. Con's first arguments were extremely convincing, but Con failed to amend them according to Pro's rebuttals.