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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: 2/8/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 740 times Debate No: 6831
Debate Rounds (3)
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Resolved: In a democratic society felons ought to retain the right to vote
Value: democratic society
Value Criterion: Maximizing political participation

Contention 1: A democratic society can not be legitimate if the people in it are not voting. This is because the definition of democracy dictates that we let every competent adult vote. If we bar felons from voting then we are not truly a democracy.

Contention 2: Furthermore if we continue to disenfranchise felons then not only are we undemocratic but we are also racist. This is because in America the majority of felons tend to be minorities. In fact according to the Department of Justice for every 15,000 felons sentenced to prison 450 were white 1,356 were Hispanic and 3,188 were black. Therefore as one can clearly see felon disenfranchisement excludes a whole class of people from the voting process. As stated in my previous statistic the two major minorities that make up the majorities of felons in America are blacks and Hispanics. Due to this the voices of these two groups of people is not generally heard. So if one were to vote neg. this could in effect lead to the genocide of minorities as their voice would be stifled in the government. This proves that supporting felon disenfranchisement supports racism.

Contention 3: Not only does felon disenfranchisement supports racism but it can change the result of important elections. Blacks and Hispanics generally vote Democratic. As these minorities make up the majorities of felons felon disenfranchisement favors the white dominated Republican party and skews the results of elections. An example of this would be my state of Florida in the 2004 election. If felons had been allowed to vote there is no way that George Bush would have won the presidency. Though Gore had the popular vote Bush had more electoral votes which enabled him to win. However if felons had been allowed to vote Gore would have had not only the popular vote but the electoral votes necessary to win.

Contention 4: Additionally felon disenfranchisement is not truly a punishment. Disallowing felons from voting does nothing correct their behavior or to prevent them from committing a crime again. If anything it further separates them from society. This is injustice for if a man committed a felony in his late teens and is kept from voting from every election each time a new political figure come to power he will have to remember the mistake he made as a teen. He may be a reformed and upstanding member of society yet he will still be unable to vote. For these reason I support the affirmative of this resolution.


Value- Justice
Value Criterion- John Locke's Social Contract
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Martin Luther King Jr. a famous American states here bluntly that injustice anywhere in the world is affecting the rest. In the resolution, "In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote," my value will be justice. According to Random House Unabridged dictionary, justice is the quality of being just; righteousness or moral rightness. Making sure justice is served, we must uphold everyone responsible for their actions. My value criterion is John Locke's Social Contract. This contract is based on giving the government our rights to have the them make choices for us, but when the contract is broken( I.E by breaking the law) you no longer are in the contract, and will automatically loose such rights. In other words, once a person commit's a crime, Locke states that the person has put they're self at war with the entire order of the contract. Locke also states that once they break the law, the person must face retribution from a higher power as a consequence for their actions. Locke emphasizes that truth and justice are the common ties of society. In the resolution, it talks about felons, which are people who have been convicted of a felony. Such people should not be allowed to vote.

C1- Knowingly breaking the law, is disrespecting the law itself.
When a felon commit's a crime, they know are doing so and are gambling that they won't get caught. They are knowingly breaking the law, showing right away that they have no respect for society or the law in general. Showing no respect for society also goes to show that they don't know how to act responsibly, therefore they should not have the right to vote. Such people obviously have a lack of good judgment to begin with, so why let them vote, when they can't make civil decisions for their selves, let alone their society. Giving felons the right to vote is similar to giving a young child candy after hitting their sibling. You are showing them that it's okay to do so. It is not. Another daily example is a teenager refuses to do his chores. They should automatically get privileges taken away for their actions. The same concept applies to this resolution.
Taking away their right to vote is the only way they will learn that taking part in such ways is wrong, and will not be accepted in society. Affirming this resolution is rewarding felons for their actions, which is plainly going against justice and Locke's contract. Negating the resolution is agreeing with Locke that such people are no longer part of society and results in loss of rights preserved for citizens that do so.

C2- Disenfranchisement is not too severe.
Felons are people who have committed serious crimes. Not something minor like running a stop sign, but a felony. A serious crime such as murder, rape, or robbery, should not be rewarded with the rights everyone else gets. As far as justice goes; making sure justice is served is making sure that people are getting the punishment they deserve, as Locke agrees in his contract. Denying these people their right to vote is one of the only ways we can truly show them that taking part is such ways is wrong. They're taking away other people's human rights such as voting, by committing felonies. Disenfranchisement is the way we should show felons that taking actions upon someone else's rights in any
society is wrong. They need to learn, and by taking away their right to vote, we are doing so. For example, a man goes and murders his wife; he is considered a felon. That man should not be allowed to vote in any kind of society. Taking such actions proves that he isn't responsible to begin with. He, not only took his wife's right of life, but he's violating the laws that were laid down for him. If felons cannot be trusted to follow laws already set out for them, they should not have any say so in the laws that are being created. A felon takes away someone else's rights, so they shouldn't have theirs, and should be treated with retribution. This is the only way that justice will be served, is if we hold everyone accountable for their actions and punish them for their doings.
Doing such a high costly crime automatically makes them do the time, and loose rights that are saved for law abiding citizens. Dis affirming
this resolution is the only way we will achieve equality throughout the world. Jock Locke shows us that in his contract, along with negating this resolution.

attack on opposition contention 1; It is hard to say that one is competent when they go against the values that their own society bestowed upon them.
Contention 2 attack; In a just democratic society race is never a criteria when determining felons. Also this would leave out an entire class of people, i agree with my opposition but this class is not determined by race, it is determined by actions and this negating this resolution provides a deterrence from committing felonies.
Attack on contention 3. My opponent would be one to advocate that if Hitler was convicted that he could also vote because he may have been able to vote for the Nazi party. the simple fact is that they did something wrong to get their punishment.
Contention 4 attack. It is a punishment to provide deterrence
Debate Round No. 1


All men are created equal".
This was a statement made in the beginning of our nation's founding. If all men our equal then why should some be disallowed the right to vote. If we disenfranchise felons then we are disagreeing with our country's founding principles.
Also John Locke's Social Contract was not written for today's society. While it somewhat relevant my opponent is relying on a piece of work written in the 17th century way to much and also, nowhere in our constitution is a "social contract" between the government and the people mentioned. By instating this 400 year old idea into our society it would not only change this resolution, but everything in our constitution. Furthermore my opponent stated that disenfranchisement is not to severe a punishment when I believe that disenfranchisement is not a punishment at all. Most felons often do not care for voting in most cases. The most time felons have been interested in voting was in the 2008 election and the election of 2000. If the felons are not interested in voting in the first place then it is not a punishment at all. Therefore it is a right that is unnecessarily taken away from them. As to his Contention 2 attack, just because race is not a factor in determining whether someone is a felon, it is still entirely relevant to this resolution, for when you think of a dangerous or violent person who is stereotypically thought of? Blacks or Latinos. Stereotypes have to come from somewhere, though, and are often true. Because of this say for example a outrageous bill was put up for a citizen vote to reinstate slavery. If minorities cant vote they have no say in the matter so a one can see felon disenfranchisement can lead to genocide and slavery. So, moving on, Hitler has nothing to do with this resolution and it is completely uncalled for that you say that I am a Hitler supporter. Hitler is, hands down, the worst man in the history. comparing a common thief to him is like comparing a tadpole to a dragon: which is worse?Also according to the Washington Post "To condemn millions to eternal political silence is to stab our democracy in the heart, and to provide cause for bitterness and alienation. Felons may face many other disabilities: They cannot sit on juries, serve as teachers, firefighters or -- often -- even barbers or plumbers. They cannot receive food stamps or live in public housing. Add to all this the knowledge that whatever they do, no matter how much they have changed, their voices will never be heard in the public arena." This clearly as one can see is unfair and wrong. Now, continuing, my opponent seems to advocate an eye-for-an-eye policy, that because a felon takes away, in a sense, someone's right to vote, just so you know: an eye-for-an-eye just makes the WHOLE WORLD BLIND. if we show our American people that we are so afraid of petty criminals that we take away their GUARANTEED RIGHTS, we declare ourselves so incompetent we must stow away felons as lower Americans. this. once-again, denies the principal of our nation that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.


I agree all men are created equal. As were these convicted convicted felons. But from their actions did they make themselves unequal. If they were to have abided by the rule of law in a democratic society then they would still be of an equal rank. Also my opponent mentioned what if some legislation created slavery again. Well my friend if that happened then that certain bill would exclude said country from being a democratic society in which we are debating thus being not topical. Also my opponent said that i am putting felons on a lower rank than the general American. Well to this I say I am. Because in a fight for justice a society must be obedient to laws. As Thrasymacus once said Justice is obedience to laws. Thus these convicted felons are not helping pursue justice only harming it. I would also like to point out i am not advocating an eye for an eye policy. I am advocating a crime and punishment policy. My opponent also said John Lockes social contract does not apply, but this is the basis of our country, he then says it is not in our constitution, but its in the declaration in which the constitution spawned from. He also said it didn't apply because its 400 years old but then mentioned the constitution which is 200 years old, they both apply. My opponent also said that this is not a punishment because felons don't vote often. But then he contradicts himself by saying felons were interested in voting in the 2000 and 2008 elections. Furthermore if negating this resolution provided deterrence for lets say 1% of the crimes it would be worth while because it would bring said democratic society closer to justice and my opponent inherently said that this does provide some deterrence when he said"most felons don't vote" meaning some value it thus it is a deterrence.
Debate Round No. 2


AnimeFanTony forfeited this round.


deflep1691 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by s0m31john 7 years ago
I saw we just bar all non WASP property owners.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FAIL DEBATE, as both sides dropped out... (checking the voting period debates, from Least To Most votes. By giving this one, it won't be prioritized in the system anymore.)