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

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

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/15/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 980 times Debate No: 6548
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




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.

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 have extended the choice not to vote to innocent bystanders therefore felon voting would violate equality and fair representation. Allowing a felon guilty of murder to vote would be no different than me killing my opponent in this round and claiming a win...and calling that fair! According to the Bureau of Statistics, Felons have silenced 847,000 voters since 1960 by murdering them. If these people lived normal lives, they would have had over 9 million presidential votes. According to the national child abuse statistics, 906,000 children were victims of felony child abuse in 2003. Over 700,000 of these children will have a psychiatric disability by age 21, which could silence them from voting. This double standard makes the vote of the felon a bad vote for he has denied his opposition the ability to voice their views and that compromises fair representation which is essential to a democracy.

Contention 3

The danger of corrupting the democracy by allowing a felon to vote presents a far greater risk than the danger of giving felons guns, allowing them to hold public offices, serve on a jury or allowing sex offenders not to register. A democracy, moreso than a bank, an elected office, a trial or a child, must be protected if it is to survive. Protecting that democracy must be the first priority in a democratic society. Allowing those who have shown contempt, and have a higher-than-usual likelihood of repeating criminal behavior, would be tantamount to allowing a fox to guard the henhouse. An even higher risk than letting felons vote is letting law-abiding citizens SEE felons voting because the deterrence factor is lost.

According to Crime and Deterrence, August, 2008, "If punishment is certain, then the philosophy of deterrence comes closer to achieving its goals. If, on the other hand, one is relatively sure that they will not be punished, deterrence is not achieved."

From that same source, out of 1,000 felonies committed, only 3 are sentenced to over a

year in prison which translates to a soft-on-crime message that is dangerous to a democracy.

Out of 1000 felonies committed ...540 are reported to the police

of those, 65 lead to arrests

of those arrests, 36 are convicted

of those convicted, 17 are sentenced to custody

of those, 3 are sentenced to over a year in prison

Source: (Kornblum, William, Sociology in a changing world, 1988:219)

To recap, felons chose not to vote, they silenced their victims, and allowing felons to vote risks the corruption of the democracy. None of these reasons serve my value of justice and my criterion of equality treatment. Therefore, I negate the resolution. Now, let's look at my opponents case and see why it doesn't hold up.


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

1.Democratic society: a society which strives for social and political equality for all
2.Retain: to keep in possession for possible future use or application; to keep
3.Disenfranchise: to take away the power or opportunity to vote

For analysis of the resolution I would like to offer the following observations:

1.The resolution specifies felons. This also includes felons that have already served their time in jail, and are now back in society. This context of a felon in the resolution is true for two reasons:
a.First, the definition of a felon is a person who has committed a felony. This definition uses the past form of the verb. Therefore, it implies that a felon has already committed the crime.
b.Second, when a felon commits a crime it is on their record permanently. This is the legal stamp of a felon. Thus, my context of a felon holds true for the resolution because the government has indication that a felon is considered a felon their whole life, unless they are pardoned or found innocent.
2.The resolution uses the word retain. Therefore, the negative needs to prove why felons ought to be disenfranchised indefinitely.

The affirmative values A Just Legal System. This is an appropriate value because it is inherent to the resolution on the fact that the resolution explicitly talks about punishment. Punishments ought to be just. However, achieving this just legal system can only be done if that government follows its own rules and laws. For example, if a government creates a law outlawing murder, then it is just for that government to prosecute those that murder. Since the law has been created, that law ought to be enforced. The value of a just legal system is achieved by the criterion of Respecting International Law. Since international law is based on the consent of democratic societies throughout the world, it is only logical that respecting the laws made by this group of people help achieve a just legal system. Furthermore, international law is a necessary component to minimize arbitration which is a block to justice. Essentially this criterion is absolutely necessary based on the fact that it is the very law that has come from the consent of the international community in an effort to promote global equality. This criterion impacts the resolution in two ways:

1.First, the resolution never specifies a specific democratic society thus, the resolution implies the global community. Therefore, the criterion of international law greatly impacts the weighing of the resolution in the context of global democratic societies.
2.Second, the resolution implies punishment. International law is the only form of the law that creates a universal standard. Therefore, the criterion of respecting international law greatly impacts the weighing of the resolution in terms of punishment.

The two main UN documents dealing with disenfranchisement and suffrage are the following:

1.Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 2 states "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." One of the rights set forth is this declaration is the right of universal and equal suffrage. This declaration, ratified by the UN General assembly gives the right to universal suffrage.
2.UN Standard Minimum Rules. According to this standard of rules for criminals, ratified by the UN General Assembly, all felons that have reentered society ought to have the right to vote, and actions by the government must help in the reintegration process of those felons.

Contention I: Implication of the UN decisions

A.The creation of a hypocrisy standard. The previous two UN decisions impact the resolution on the fact that by negating the resolution a hypocrisy standard has been set. Essentially, by negating the resolution the policy decision of disenfranchisement would be put into place in all democratic societies. However, this means that the democratic societies are acting against their written word. Since these two documents were ratified by the global community it would be hypocrisy for those same societies to not practice what they preach. Michael J. Cholbi explains "International laws and norms consistently go against the idea of disenfranchisement. Furthermore, some countries, like the US, who have agreed to those laws, are acting hypocritically because they do not respect the very laws they created for the global community. It is unjust for a country to decide international laws, and then do the complete opposite." Therefore, to prevent the creation of a hypocrisy standard it is necessary to respect the given international laws.

B.The creation of a double standard. Respecting international law helps minimize unjust and inconsistent punishment. For example, in the US the majority of states disenfranchise, however some states do not. Clearly there is inconsistency of disenfranchisement within the US. This makes the punishment an unjust one because its standards are not applied to everyone equally. I.e. a double standard effect is created. Disenfranchisement is also inconsistent on the global scale. For example, the European Union does not disenfranchise while the US does. Michael J. Cholbi explains "Disenfranchisement is inconsistent on a global basis. However, if the countries of the UN General Assembly obey the laws set in the Human Rights Declaration there would be an end to disenfranchisement inconsistency and which would ultimately end up in achieving more international equality." Essentially, respecting and obeying international law reduces the risk of inconsistent disenfranchisement laws, which would end up in more legal consistency.

C.Societal Reintegration. Felon disenfranchisement is counter-productive to society because it hinders reintegration back into normal life. Instead of working to rehabilitate felons and help in the reintegration process, felon disenfranchisement sends the message that felons are unworthy to rejoin society. Dr. Alec Ewald explains "Rehabilitative principles shine a particularly bright light on criminal disenfranchisement policies. If one emphasized rehabilitative goals, indefinite disenfranchisement would clearly be counterproductive, since denying ex-offenders the vote impedes their reintegration into society by stigmatizing them as second-class citizens."

D.Voting fosters awareness. Michael J. Cholbi explains "On the other hand, allowing felons to vote would encourage them to participate in civic affairs, with beneficial results: criminals will strengthen their ties to their communities; develop sympathy and civic-mindedness; enhance their ability to deliberate about long-term policies that affect more than their own self-interest; and become hopeful about their ability to affect the world in positive ways. Denying felons the vote can only serve to stigmatize felons and exacerbate factors known to contribute to criminal behavior." Essentially, having the right to vote fosters an awareness of politics and community.


V: Justice

--> Part of a jsut legal system.

VC: Equal Treatment of Citizens

--> I have 2 responses:

First, to actually achieve equality of citizens then it is imperative to give ex-felons the right to vote because they deserve their rights back, and have finished their time on incarceration.

Second, he never makes any link between his Value and Value criterion, so there is now way for him to achieve his value.


--> If his logic is true then we should disenfranchise regular citizens who don't vote themselves.

--> He never makes any warrants,therefore it holds no water.

--> If my opponenet agrees that felons are still citizens, then the constitution states that all citizens have the right
Debate Round No. 1


bgruber93 forfeited this round.


farmboy22 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent is using someone's case that is not his (look at the comments on this debate). according to light c on this site he said " stole my case...." look at the comments on this debate.

His rebuttal dosn't hold up to my case he said "First, to actually achieve equality of citizens then it is imperative to give ex-felons the right to vote." this only sees the point of veiw from the felon not the victom and the rest of his attacks arn't valad to the case i presented


farmboy22 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by LightC 9 years ago
nvm, it is the case you used agaisnt me..... and thus my rebuttal still holds.
Posted by LightC 9 years ago
and you took my rebuttal....which had nothing to do with his case....
Posted by LightC 9 years ago
LightC stole my case....
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bgruber93 9 years ago
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Total points awarded:70