The Instigator
Wojiz
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
fo-shizzle0855
Con (against)
Winning
5 Points

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

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/7/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,495 times Debate No: 5907
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

Wojiz

Pro

November Affirmative
Paul Judge
Resolved: In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote.
I affirm. A democratic society is defined as a group of people sharing an elected or representative government that protects equality and political liberties. A felon is one who has committed a serious crime, including but not limited to assault, rape, murder and grand theft. I offer several observations regarding the resolution. First, the resolution assumes that voting is a right, and therefore the only justification for the limitation of voting rights is when it is absolutely necessary to maintain security in society or prevention violation of other rights; restricting liberty for criminals, for instance, is necessary to protect innocent people. In order to restrict voting rights, one must prove that those votes are actively harming others. Second, the value that the resolution directly addresses is democracy. Therefore, the only relevant value for the round is democracy. Democracy is the ideal of a government that derives its power directly through the people or elected representatives and also recognizes and protects equal rights and privileges. The representation of the people is the foundation of democracy; without the power of the people to express their ideas and make decisions, democracy ceases to exist. Therefore, the value criterion is the marketplace of ideas. An idea promoted by John Stuart Mills and Thomas Jefferson, the marketplace of ideas is the concept of a free exchange of ideas that leads to certain revelations about human rights or philosophy. These ideas are always changing and the only way to determine their worth is to compare them with other ideas; as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior said, "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market". Not allowing these ideas to compete with other ideas creates philosophical and intellectual stagnancy, allowing unjust ideas to go unchallenged. The marketplace of ideas is necessary in both creating and maintaining a democracy; without breaking free of convention and expressing certain ideas, democracy would not exist. Therefore, because the affirmative protects the marketplace of ideas, it protects democracy.
Contention I: Limiting the right to vote is not necessary to protect fundamental rights.
Certain rights, like the right to life and, in this resolution, the right to vote are held to be inalienable. These rights can, however, be violated only when they directly threaten the rights of other people. A police officer is justified in shooting a dangerous criminal who threatens his life or an innocent life. The negative, therefore, is tasked with the burden of proving that voting rights for felons actively denies others rights, which they can't prove. The right of a felon to vote, however, is separate from the felon voting; a right itself cannot deny another a right, only the unjust application can. Second, there is no foundation for the notion that these votes will actively deny the rights of others. Voting for a mainstream presidential candidate, for example, is a vote that will be mirrored by millions of other Americans and by no stretch of the imagination violate anyone's rights. There is no logical foundation for the idea that the individual votes of felons will harm others. In addition, the theoretical votes that could have harmful consequences are balanced out by votes outside of prison; the votes of felons alone would not be enough to create injustice. A right can only be taken away when the application itself denies human rights, and there is no reasonable foundation for the notion that a felon's vote will actively harm others. Therefore, protecting that felon's right to vote protects the marketplace of ideas by protecting expression, thus upholding democracy.
Contention II: Silencing dissent and denying political liberties negates democracy.
Democracy is based on the free and open exchange of ideas. The concept of a democracy itself was not created through isolated, arbitrary decision making, but combined, rational discussion. Concepts like society, democracy and rights that are explicitly stated in the resolution are all results of logical discussion. No democratic society can exist when it silences certain ideas because they go against convention. Limiting the expression of ideas is a slippery slope, and sets a precedent for further violation of free speech. The concept of denying rights to felons stems from a desire to limit dissent from the government, a totalitarian idea. Even rule by a reasonable majority is totalitarian, in that democracy is not the concept of surrendering to a %51 majority, but one that grants equal representation to all voters. Denying felons the right to vote destroys the foundation of democracy, which is the protection of equality and political liberties. This violates the marketplace of ideas, in that felons' political liberties cannot be utilized to question society; under the negative, a runaway slave would not be allowed to question the laws that imprison him. Allowing ideas that are voiced by unpopular members of society is necessary to protect the marketplace of ideas, and thus democracy.
Contention III: Political liberties, such as the right to vote, are necessary to establish a fair political process and just legislation.
As John Rawls wrote, justice necessitates that each person in a democratic society has an equal right to an extensive system of basic liberties. In addition, greater social or economic advantages cannot justify the violation of those rights. The right to vote is one of these liberties. Rawls also writes that all citizens have a right to take part in the democratic society; if felons are denied the right to vote, therefore, they are unable to defend themselves in a public, democratic arena. If decisions are made that affect members of a society without their consent, an isolated dictatorship is created, in which the felon has no representation in government. Political liberties are essential because they provide access to the process that determines the value of these rights, and these rights must hold a paramount value; therefore, it is unjust to hold social or economic benefits, such as preventing a ‘bad' vote, to be more important than rights. Preventing negative influences on society is a slippery slope to greater violation of rights. The idea of violating rights for benefits goes back to euthanasia programs in Nazi Germany, where patients who were braindead or suffered severe mental disabilities were euthanized in order to stimulate the economy. Once it had been established that rights could be violated for benefits, however, the groups whose rights to life were violated quickly expanded. Political liberties, therefore, must be weighed to be greater than societal welfare. Democracies are democracies not for their efficiency or the reasonability of their voters, but for the length to which they protect liberties. Valuing rights protects the marketplace of ideas, in that external factors cannot influence discussion in the theoretical marketplace, and thus justice is achieved.
Because limiting the right to vote has no justification that involves protecting rights, silencing dissent rejects democracy and political liberties must be valued above social or economic benefits, democracy, the value of the round, can only be achieved through protection of the marketplace ideas, and thus you must affirm.
fo-shizzle0855

Con

I accept my opponents value of Democracy. A key note of democracy is majority rule. Large groups get more representation and therefore have more power. Felons are not a large group in the United States and therefore should be subject to the will of the non-felons.
value and criteria -Maximizing rights
Felons represent 1.6% of the population. By not voting the 98.4% of the non-felon population of the United States has more rights and there for the maximization of rights occurs. 98.4% vs. 1.6% who should get the rights. (US Bureau of Justice Statistics).
My value and criteria is rationality. If you stop, sit down, and think about what a felon is you will realize why they should not vote. Over half of felons are drug abusers. 49% of people in prison are there for a violent offence. They are generally less educated. These people are rapists, child molesters, drug lords, thieves, and murders. Do we really want these people to have a say about what goes on in this country.

Contention one: Most say "If we allow this minority group (felons) to be disenfranchised, what is to stop us from doing it to others?" This is a simple question; the Constitution. Amendment XIV specifically says states have the right to stop criminals from voting. The other Amendments also make it impossible for other minority groups to be disenfranchised. Disenfranchisement is not an issue.

Contention two: The felons don't have a right to vote in states that don't allow it, and in order for any other rights to be violated; the rights of others besides felons would have to be violated as well. In America we have constitutional safeguards against this. Everyone is guaranteed basic rights in the United States.
A.Voting does not help felons re-enter society. 67.5% of all felons are sent back to prison within three years of their imprisonment (US Bureau of Justice Statistics). This rate is very consistent across all 50 states. There is no difference between states that let felons vote and states that don't. Voting has no impact on recidivism.
B.States have the right to restrict voters based on their criminal records (amendment XIV, section II) Again they made the choice, they knew the consequences, and now they have their voting rights rebuked. It's part of their sentence.

Contention three: If you go back to my criterion by stopping felons from voting we are not crippling it we are strengthening it. There are 5.3 million felons that cannot vote. This is 5.3 million uneducated, drug addicted, parasites on society that we don't have to worry about screwing this country up. In order to have a strong democracy you need educated, people that are going to make the best choice for their country. Felons don't meet this requirement.

1-Harm Principal/social contract
It is acceptable to restrict ones liberty when they have infringed on the rights of others. Being a citizen of the United States binds you to this social contract. If you break the laws you must suffer the consequences. Losing voting rights is one of these consequences.
2-Maintain Order
Because of their actions we know what criminals support. The question is do we want these morals reflected in our laws? By giving felons representation we are essentially giving them the power to make laws. This would result in a mess. What kind of laws are pedophiles going to try and push? What do you think drug addicts will want? This also can result with problems of political corruption.
I am one who believes in responsibility. Everyone on this earth has responsibility and can use it. But by granting them a right they don't deserve, they are taking us for granted and we are letting them. Now prisons take such good care of their occupants, that some would prefer living in a prison because they can get pampered and taken care of. It's been said that there has even been said that some felons have purposely committed a crime just to be in prison where they feel is a better place to live. So I rest my case by saying things because I believe my ethics are correct, and that justice need be taken place if so deserved. For all these reasons I negate.
Debate Round No. 1
Wojiz

Pro

Wojiz forfeited this round.
fo-shizzle0855

Con

I hold all three contentions. Seeing as my opponent has forfeited the round i think it's only fair that i too do that. I trust that he probably had something more important to do and couldn't find time to debate.
Debate Round No. 2
Wojiz

Pro

Wojiz forfeited this round.
fo-shizzle0855

Con

again my opponent seems to be absent, therefor this debate will have to be again postponed until a later date
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Metz 8 years ago
Metz
I would just like to point out a democracy is not always a simple majority rule system...

If anyone else wants to debate this challange me I love LD and it is awesome practice...
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
Formality smells funny.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 8 years ago
I-am-a-panda
hmmmm... I would accept only your argument is a bit messy in its current state. if you could break it down into 5-6 line paragraphs it would help. Aswell, I can only think up 1 or 2 counter arguments.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by U.n 9 months ago
U.n
Wojizfo-shizzle0855Tied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Wojizfo-shizzle0855Tied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.