The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 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: 12/3/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,285 times Debate No: 6133
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (2)




I stand in affirmation, "Resolved: In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote." I offer the following definitions for clarification of the affirmed resolution:
�Democracy- Government by the governed. Within this I must state that felons are part of "the governed".
�Felon- Someone who commits a felony; A Felony is a level of crime that is higher in comparison than a forfeiture or a misdemeanor. Repeated crimes can rise to the level of felony offenses, such as repeated DUI's
�Ought- Used to indicate advisability or prudence.
�Retain- To keep or hold in a particular place, condition, or position.
�The right to vote- a formal expression of preference for a candidate for office or for a proposed resolution of an issue. This right is inextricable in a democratic society to retain full citizenship.
�The value of this round must be equality of opportunity which refers to the fact that all citizens MUST be equal citizens under the eyes of the law. Thus you can construe that my definition of equality is referring to equality of citizenship within a society. In this resolutional standpoint opportunity must be pertaining to the right to vote. The optimal criterion for achieving equality for this round is consistency which is Correspondence among related aspects; compatibility. Thus meaning that for equality to be reached, all citizens must be treated consistently as citizens in the eyes of the law - no one can become "more of a citizen" or "less of a citizen". By negating the resolution certain citizens are not treated consistently thus you are not treating all citizens as equals.
The affirmative sole burden is to prove that the consistent treatment of the right to vote functions under equality of opportunity. Thus, upholding democracy in the resolution. While the negative's sole burden is to show consistency in equality of opportunity because it's a prerequisite to democracy, and if he or she cannot than his or her case is non-topical because it cannot uphold democracy and cannot be looked to.
Observation 1: Democracy is government by the governed. Certainly convicted felons are part of the governed. When felons are not treated equally and consistently, this contradicts the concept of democracy because the governed are disallowed participation within a democratic society�
Observation 2: Some may argue that no true democracy exist. This should carry no weight in a round for two reasons. A) In the resolution itself their clames to be a democracy so If there were no true democracy than we could not be debating this topic at all. B) This is a great thought or opinion but take this example: If the president of the United States has a bill on his desk that has the exact wording of the resolution he cannot just throw that bill away because there is no democracy, in fact, by taking any action at all he would be acknowledging the fact that there is a democracy because he made a decision.
Observation 3: Some may say that a negative position is that the negative can give the right to vote back to felons once they have been released from prison, yet this is entirely untrue. No where in the resolution does it say "felons released" or "felons imprisoned". Thus, any negative argument that this can win for the negative should be disregarded or turned for the affirmative because it is still winning for the affirmative.
Contention 1: Disenfranchisement destroys a felon's status as an equal citizen.
SubPoint A: The right to vote is a fundamental right, and as such it is central to the meaning of citizenship. Furthermore, the fundamental importance of the right to vote is not determined by its actual exercise, but merely by its possession. Possessing the right to vote is of paramount importance as it is a tool by which an individual engages in active participation - S. David Mitchell furthers "the right to vote serves as the embodiment of political empowerment, and it is essential to the full privilege of effective citizenship." The right to vote, therefore, can be construed not only as a means for an individual to exercise political power, but also as a necessary requirement in being a full citizen. Therefore, since the right to vote has been taken away from felons, they are no longer treated consistently and therefore are not equals. The possession of the right to vote, or more aptly the opportunity to participate in the political process, serves as an indicator of a person's legal status as a member of the polity, but nothing more. Conversely, the loss or infringement of that right would indicate both a repudiation of membership in the polity and a lack of full citizenship. The right to vote is a political right that allows an individual to be an active participant in the government and is exercised cyclically; it is not the determining factor of citizenship. Citizenship in fact embodies a full range of rights including, but not limited to, the possession or exercise of the right to vote. The right to vote is consistent for all citizens which helps them become equal in their society. When a felon is disenfranchised, they become non-citizens, and even when a society's laws are broken, one may forfeit liberty but must not become non-entities. To disenfranchise any group, even those that have violated the laws a democracy has established, is to render them powerless, and any hope of rehabilitation becomes revenge. When a democracy turns on its own citizens and seeks revenge, it clearly is no longer legitimate, and is a democracy in name only.
�Contention 2: Disenfranchisement creates negative consequences for felons in social and economic ways. The deprivations that ex-felons encounter extend beyond the scope of the political sphere. The right to vote is integral to a citizen's sense of belonging and undeniably holds a place of critical importance in the United States for both its symbolic and practical value; it serves as a marker of inclusion for formerly excluded groups, i.e., African-Americans, women, and those under the age of eighteen. For ex-felons the right to vote is merely one of many rights denied to them in but one of several spheres of their lives. Convicted felons are denied a host of rights that govern the social and legal spheres of their life; many of these rights have more pressing importance than the opportunity to cast a ballot. To examine how felon exclusion laws infringe upon the full citizenship of both the individual ex-felon and the community, to which the ex-felon belongs, a multi-part conceptualization of citizenship will be used. The leading contemporary scholar to consider such a multi-part conceptualization of citizenship is T.H. Marshall, a British sociologist; and, it is Marshall's formulation of citizenship that frames this argument.
Marshall posited that citizenship is comprised of three distinct, yet interdependent, elements: the civil, meaning individual freedom; the political, referring to the franchise; and the social, addressing an individual's economic life. The political element, according to Marshall, consists of the "right to participate in the exercise of political power." This element is comprised not only of the right to vote, but also includes the right to pursue public office; political power is manifested in the voice of the people and through the machinations of those chosen to serve as proxies of the people. The rights most commonly associated with the civil element are those rights that are "necessary for individual freedom," and in the context of the United States are embodied in the Bill of Rights.
So since I show you that the disenfranchisement of felons is inconsistent with the rest of the members of society because it makes them unequal which is unlawful because in the eyes of the law all citizens are equally citizens, I strongly urge you to vote affirmative.


Do the names Carrie Lenz or Cindy Brown ring a bell? Probably not. They were 26 years old when Tim McVeigh stopped them from ever voting again by bombing the Oklahoma City Federal building. Carrie and Cindy were in good company. There were 166 others in that one felony crime.

The Bureau of Justice lists over 847,000 homicides since 1960. If all those people had lived out their normal lives, that would affect over 9 million presidential votes and over 18 million municipal votes. If you include those brain damaged by a felon, that number would be much, much higher.


My value is justice. Justice, according to the Encarta Dictionary, is fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made.

There is nothing fair that felons like these are allowed to vote while many victims cannot.

My criterion is upholding the equal treatment of citizens. Equality in a democratic society is never reached when you subtract victim voices while adding felon voices. The ONLY way to achieve equal treatment of citizens is to negate the resolution that in a democratic society, felons ought to retain their right to vote.

A felon, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is someone who has been convicted of a serious crime. They may be currently incarcerated or released.


Contention 1

Felons have chosen not to vote.

Committing a felony requires premeditation and intent. The consequences of felony convictions are widely known to include no firearms, no elected offices, no jury duty and no voting. My opponent agreed in cross examination that a vote could not be changed once cast - so, in order to treat a felon like other members of society - the felon's decision not to vote should be honored by society.

Contention 2

Felons are not silenced by not voting.

The affirmative wants you to believe if a felon cannot vote, he cannot participate in the political process, but Felons CAN actively campaign for issues or candidates if they so desire.

Think of Carrie and Cindy or the thousands of brain injured victims of felony crimes and contrast their loss of rights to that of the felons. Then ask yourself if that is equal or just.

Contention 3

Permanently keeping felon's from voting serves equality and justice.

According to FBI Homicide Reports from 76 to 2005, over 90 percent of homicide victims were old enough to vote, yet were silenced by a felon. Over 81 percent of homicides had multiple victims, meaning that one felon silenced more than one voter.

According to the National Child Abuse Center, felons injured over 900,000 children in 2003 alone. Over 700,000, or 80% of abused children are left with a psychiatric disorder by age 21. These disorders, including severe brain injuries, can disqualify them from voting, too. Face it, felons are savagely stealing votes from their victims while fleecing the public for voting rights in the name of democracy. Are you going to find this FAIR?

To recap, felons chose not to vote, they are not silenced from politics, and not allowing them to vote serves equality and justice. Therefore, I negate the resolution. Now, let's look at my opponents case and see why it doesn't hold up.
Debate Round No. 1


thebigboss forfeited this round.


My opponent has conceded his points to me because of forfeit. Please vote neg.
Debate Round No. 2


my opponent made no extensions whatsoever on either side of the flow, thus he loses all offense in the round. Thus, you have toy default back to the aff because you cannot evaluate the negative case and since he has not extended any offense against the aff case, you are obligated to vote for aff.


My opponent forfeited the round so I thought I didn't have to attack the round. My opponent didn't disagree that because he forfeited he agreed with all my points so the neg in this debate has clearly won

please vote neg.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by thebigboss 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by TheRaven 7 years ago
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