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

Resolved: In the United States, Felons should be allowed to vote upon release from prison.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/17/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 562 times Debate No: 70235
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)




In this debate I will argue that the United States has unethical laws regarding felon voting rights, and that these laws should be loosened. I do realize that some states already allow felons to vote upon release from prison. However, I will argue in this round that the laws should be changed so that all convicted felons in the United States gain voting rights upon release from prison.
Round 1- Acceptance/Any definitions con wants to make
Round 2- Constructives
Round 3- Rebuttals
Round 4- Summary


Thank you for this challenge, henryzietlow. I accept the challenge and will debate you on the topic that, "In the United States, Felons should be allowed to vote upon release from prison.

I would like to define felons as a person who has committed a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. This is the way the United States Government defines the term, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

This should be a fun debate!
Debate Round No. 1


Today I stand to affirm the resolution: "resolved: In the United States, Felons should be allowed to vote upon release from prison." Not only are American felon voting laws outdated, they work against the democratic process, and they slow rehabilitation back into society.
1. One of the foundations of democracy is that everybody should vote, and that those elected into the United State's government are those who are supported the majority of the population. By not allowing released felons to vote, it is taking the vote away from up to 7% of the adult population in some states (1). In fact, in 2010, 5.9 million people in the United States were left unable to vote (2). Because of this, up to 6% of the United States (5.9 million people) are left without a vote, and their voices are not heard as loudly in government. This takes away from the democratic process, as despite the fact that the United States is built off of giving everybody a voice, these felons are left with none. So, not allowing felons to vote is taking away from the democratic process, and is making electoral decisions not truly represent the views of the people.
1a. Restricting felon voting rights can change the results of elections. If felons in Florida were allowed to vote in the 2000 presidential election, it would have affected the result. Ex-felons have been seen to almost always vote democratic, and the 527 vote margin of victory of George Bush would undoubtedly be wiped out if the 600,000 felons barred from voting could have exercised their opinions (3). So, it is clear that not allowing felons to vote can change the results of elections, and by not allowing felons to vote, elections clearly do not always represent the people's true views.
1b. Taking away the right to vote does not make logical sense. A fundamental of the American Justice system is that once you complete your prison sentence, your punishment is over. Not allowing felons to vote for extended periods after their release from prison is extending their punishment, and by not allowing felons to vote, it makes rehabilitation into society even harder. This claim is supported by former Attorney General Eric Holder, as he said that taking the right away from felons "Defy[ies] the principles of accountability and rehabilitation that guides our justice system" (1). So, taking away a felon's right to vote is unethical, and unnecessarily extends punishment.
1c. The bill of rights in the constitution of the United States "prohibits excessive sanctions", and reads "punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to the offense". Not allowing felons to vote for decades seems to be "excessive," as it is a fundamental right of being an American Citizen. So, not allowing felons to vote for decades is going against the concepts of excessive sanctions, and is an unnecessary right to remove.
2. Allowing felons to vote would help with their transition back into society. Felons without voting rights often feel fed up with the slow pace it takes to be fully re-admitted into society, and because of this, they are often three times more likely to re-offend than those with full rights upon release from prison (1). So, if felons were allowed to vote upon release from prison, not only would they transition more smoothly back into society, they would also be less likely to re-offend.
2a. Small offenses, like even tampering with crab traps illegally can trigger over 7 years without voting rights is some states (3). This simply does not make sense, as these criminals are clearly non violent, and have no intention of hurting anybody. Furthermore, these criminals usually show nothing that hints towards an inability to vote.
3. Felon voting laws are racist, and take the voice away from racial minorities. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, up to 20% of adult black males are left unable to vote in some states due to felon voting restrictions (2). African Americans are already a minority, with a relatively small voice in government. By taking the vote away from up to 20 percent of adult male African Americans, the voice of a relatively unspoken minority is being further quenched, as less of them can vote. This gives them even less of a say in elections, and is thus making them further under-represented in government. This also gives white people, the majority, an even larger voice in government. So, felon voting laws take voice away from already overshadowed minorities.
4. Felon Voting laws in the United States are outdated. In most other industrialized countries, felons are allowed to vote, sometimes even while still in prison (1). Additionally, they are even encouraged to do so, in promotion of the democratic process (1). In comparison, American felon voting laws, which take away voting rights until long after prison release seem incredibly restrictive, and outdated, while the laws in these other countries are innovative and modern. If American felon voting laws were loosened to this level, the United States would appear to be a modern, innovative country in one more way, and it would maybe gain more international respect.
So, it has been shown that felon voting laws defy the democratic process, make elections seem not to fully represent the people's views, are unconstitutional, harm rehabilitative processes, take the voice away from under-spoken minorities, and are outdated. As such, it seems that felon voting laws need to be changed to become less restrictive.


warriorsfan01 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Extend all arguments


I will be debating against the topic, "Resolved: In the United States, Felons should not be allowed to vote upon release from prison." Now, to jump right in. Sorry about that last round; I was a little bit busy, but I would like to provide constructives and rebuttals in this round.

I would first like to point out one statistical discrepancy in the proposition"s case. He has stated that 5.9 million people, or 6% of our country"s population cannot vote, but this is clearly an incorrect statistic. According to the most recent statistics from 2014, our country"s population is 318.9 Million. 5.9 million people out of 318.9 Million is just under 2%, not 6%. This brings us to question all of proposition"s evidence and empiric. Now, to get on to constructive assertions.

1: Allowing these felons to vote is not a federal issue and cannot be decided by the U.S. Government or the Supreme Court to encompass the entire United States, as proposition is arguing. According to the Bill of Rights, this issue is decided by the states.
Most prominently, the 14th Amendment makes felon voting a state prerogative, not a federal one. If voters choose to change state laws regarding felons and voting, it's their prerogative. Federalism allows for such state-level experimentation, and it's at the state level where the consequences of new felon-voting laws will best be judged. This assertion itself negates proposition"s whole case. Proposition is arguing that we should make a law encompassing the entire United States to allow these released felons to vote. This is not legal, according to the 14th Amendment of our Bill of Rights.

2: The reason we don"t let children vote in the United States is because they have not developed proper judgment and cannot decide which party to vote for. These felons are not allowed to vote for this same reason. If someone has gone to jail for over one year, then they have committed a fairly bad crime such as assault, they have shown that they are not trustworthy and their judgment is not good.

I will now strengthen my case with rebuttals. As pointed out earlier, we come to doubt Pro"s evidence because of the discrepancy.

Rebuttal to 1a: A change of an election outcome is not enough reason to base changing the law on. If children were allowed to vote, the result of elections would drastically change, but they are not allowed to vote. A change in outcome has nothing to do with the positive or negative values of Felon voting. Many things may cause a change in the outcome of elections. That doesn"t mean they are good.

Rebuttal to 1b: In fact, punishment, more often than not, does not end after a prison sentence is over. Parole is a punishment that is given to the majority of felons coming out of prison, which means their punishment is being continued to make sure that they have learned their lesson.

Rebuttal to 1c: Pro has provided no solid evidence for this point, just that it "seems to be excessive" to not let these felons vote. But we have these punishments for a reason.

Rebuttal to 2a: This point is invalid to this debate, because this debate is about felons, and tampering with crab traps is not a felony, its only major punishment is a fine. A felon is someone who has been convicted to death or one or more years in prison for a crime.

Rebuttal to 3: It is not racist that these felon voting laws are not allowing these felons to vote. The laws are the same for all races. If the laws specifically didn"t allow African Americans to vote, then they would be racist. But the fact that minorities can"t vote because of these laws doesn"t prove the laws to be racist, it just proves that these minorities commit more than the average amount of crimes.

Rebuttal to 4: This argument about other countries having felon voting as a law is invalid because the fact that other countries have instated these laws doesn"t prove they are good. Pro has provided us with no statistics to show that with these laws, these other countries were benefited, and all he says is that America "would maybe gain more international respect." First of all, America doesn"t need any more international respect. And second of all, it is not gain respect in the eyes of other countries if we go against our own constitution.

I have refuted all of Pro"s points and added two points to this debate. I strongly urge a vote for Con in this debate.
Debate Round No. 3


henryzietlow forfeited this round.


I extend all my arguments to the fourth round. I also have effectively refuted all of Pro's points, and by forfeiting, he is conceding this. He has also not refuted either of my assertions, so those are still standing. As I have proved, I come out on top with the two arguments that felon voting isn't a federal issue and that these felons have bad judgment, I win this debate. Thank you, henryzietlow, for this challenge, and I urge a vote for the Opposition, or Con, side of this debate.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
I agree with this. If they went to prison and received their punishment then shouldnt they be free of all punishments and constriction of rights afterwards?
Posted by henryzietlow 1 year ago
Including violent felons
Posted by Dilara 1 year ago
Including violent felons? No way I'll debate you in that.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture