The Instigator
mbelliardo
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
JohnnyC
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points

Should felons be allowed to vote?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
JohnnyC
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/31/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,610 times Debate No: 29722
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (20)
Votes (4)

 

mbelliardo

Con

If you commit a felony and disrespect the laws of this great country. Then, you should not be allowed to vote for this great country. If you break into my house and kill my dog. You should not be able to vote for the person who creates laws on regulating my livelihood.
JohnnyC

Pro

I believe that the right to vote is a human right which everyone should have. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights explains that everyone has the right of freedom of expression (which includes the right to vote) and these should not be taken from them under any circumstances (Article 18). The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that stopping people in prison from voting is against the law. I assume that when you say "this great country." you are referring to the United States because (I'm sorry to generalise) you seem very American. It is a known fact among developed countries that the United States is still backwards in social liberties and granting freedom to its citizens compared to other developed countries and taking away one's rights due to an offence is a clear violation of virtuous acts by a government. Mistakes made by otherwise altogether rational, beneficial members of society should not be punished by preventing their say in how that society is run.

Convicts will keep in touch with the outside world and may become rehibilitated
Convicts are more likely to fit in well back into normal life if, whilst in prison, they retain links with the democratic process. Enfranchisement confers not only self-worth and meaning within a society, but can encourage research and engagement with contemporary issues. To deny this right will stop convicts from taking an interest in the world and leave them feeling resentful for the ill-treatment towards them. Taking an interest in contempory issues will lead to rehibilitation and will prevent the interest in crime.

Voting is a human right
Prisoners are human beings. The legal system should respect their human rights and should not take away their liberty, except when it threatens the protection of the public. Denying prisoners the right to vote does not protect the public in any way and is therefore against the human rights of prisoners. As the U.S. Congress decreed, 'the right of citizens to vote is a fundamental right'
. Those rights which are unalienable should not be lost when one is incarcerated. The first Amendment to the Constitution says "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech."

Convicts have opinions which could contribute to a democratic system
The refusal to grant prisoners the right to vote is not justified in a free and democratic society. The objective of such societies is to ensure that all views are represented fairly and voters represented equally. Prisoners should have the opportunity to influence the formation of policy on healthcare, education, the environment and all the other issues that affect the world into which almost all of them will someday be released.
Debate Round No. 1
mbelliardo

Con

I am very familiar with the 1st Amendment, but you should know that his country does not completely follow this right. People get in suspended from school for saying racial slurs or fired from their job for saying a coworker has a nice butt or thrown in jail for threatening someones life. Although each consequence for each of these examples I agree with, it doesn't sound like we have freedom of speech now does it? There are clear limitations placed on Freedom of Speech.

For specific country examples see Freedom of speech by country, and Criminal speech.

According to the Freedom Forum Organization, legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights.[38] Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the "harm principle" or the "offense principle", for example in the case of pornography, or hate speech. Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both.[39]
Members of Westboro Baptist Church have been specifically banned from entering Canada for hate speech.[40]

In "On Liberty" (1859) John Stuart Mill argued that "...there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered."[39] Mill argues that the fullest liberty of expression is required to push arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment. However, Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression: "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."[39]

In 1985 Joel Feinberg introduced what is known as the "offence principle", arguing that Mill's harm principle does not provide sufficient protection against the wrongful behaviours of others. Feinberg wrote "It is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably be an effective way of preventing serious offense (as opposed to injury or harm) to persons other than the actor, and that it is probably a necessary means to that end."[41] Hence Feinberg argues that the harm principle sets the bar too high and that some forms of expression can be legitimately prohibited by law because they are very offensive. But, as offending someone is less serious than harming someone, the penalties imposed should be higher for causing harm.[41] In contrast Mill does not support legal penalties unless they are based on the harm principle.[39] Because the degree to which people may take offense varies, or may be the result of unjustified prejudice, Feinberg suggests that a number of factors need to be taken into account when applying the offense principle, including: the extent, duration and social value of the speech, the ease with which it can be avoided, the motives of the speaker, the number of people offended, the intensity of the offense, and the general interest of the community at large.[39]

THAT BEING SAID

There should be clear limitations placed on who can vote as well. And being a felon should be one of them. You say we are going against their human rights. I say, what about the human rights of the person(s) they murdered or raped? You cannot undo what they did. They forfeited their right to vote for this country, USA, when they did what they did. They should be happy enough that they are no longer in jail.
JohnnyC

Pro

Your middle paragraphs seem to digress an awful lot and they don't really relate to the topic of the right to vote. Also, there are a lot of numbers so I would assume that you are citing your sources but there is nowhere where you write where your sources are from.

The right to vote is a human right for everyone regardless of nationality. The freedom of speech should not be taken away as a punishment because it will not teach anything to the convict. Sometimes it is necessary to break the law and at times the law is broken because it restricts freedom. Should someone have even more taken from them for justifiably breaking the law? Prisoners are a sizable portion of a countries population- one that is being completely denied their right to an opinion that counts. They are citizens too.
Debate Round No. 2
mbelliardo

Con

The middle paragraph was just explaining in detail how people do not have complete Freedom of Speech and how regulating what you are allowed to say come about. I took it off of Wikipedia because I didn't want to have to re-type all of it. I thought I copied the source of it, but I guess I didn't. So, credit for that middle paragraph goes to Wikipedia.

And you already threw the "human right" argument at me and I already discussed my rebuttal in my previous response. So, let's not go in circles here.

And not letting felons vote isn't meant to teach them anything. It is meant for them not being able to contribute to the application of US lawmaking. I also explained this in my first topic description.

And you say it is sometimes necessary to break the law...sure. I can see where you are coming from. But it is NEVER necessary to commit a FELONY! A felony is rape, murder, arson, fraud, etc. It is not speeding or anything similar.

And yes, felons are a sizable part of our population. That of which, poses a whole different conversation as to why that is. But taking up space shouldn't give you the right to vote. Not every person taking up space in the US can vote.

I do not believe you have provided a valid argument yet.
JohnnyC

Pro

Arguments against your 3rd round points:
It is a human right to vote under the UN, whether you think that it is or not.
I explained why felons should be allowed to contribute to the application of lawmaking.
There can be cases where someone is falsely accused of a felony. In that case they would lose their rights for not reason.
Denying a sizable amount of the population their right to vote will seriously dent the process of democracy and the platform to show the nation's views.
I believe that I have provided valid arguments. I do believe, with all due respect, that you are being too stubborn with this topic to accept that what I have said is valid.

In conclusion, my main reason why a felon should not have their right to vote taken from them is because committing a crime has no excuse to stop someone from having a voice.
Debate Round No. 3
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mbelliardo 4 years ago
mbelliardo
Well, I guess you win JohnyC. Good news for you felons, JohnyC's got your back:)
Posted by JohnnyC 4 years ago
JohnnyC
I am being serious. You didn't really explain it in the debate.
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
mbelliardo> Are you serious right now? Didn't I just get done debating why? "I say, what about the human rights of the person(s) they murdered or raped? You cannot undo what they did."

I also have no idea why you want the broad class of felons to have no vote. Some felons have neither permanently nor temporarily trampled upon the rights of others. If you want to be tougher on crime, many other penalties could be applied, that don't negatively impact rehabilitation.
Posted by mbelliardo 4 years ago
mbelliardo
Are you serious right now? Didn't I just get done debating why?
Posted by JohnnyC 4 years ago
JohnnyC
mbelliardo, could you explain why a felon shouldn't have a voice?
Posted by Khaos_Mage 4 years ago
Khaos_Mage
mbelliardo,
if I challenge you to this debate, will you accept?
Posted by Khaos_Mage 4 years ago
Khaos_Mage
"Is there any proof proving that there is "harm" in not letting felons vote?"
That is what you could/should have addressed. You did not. Since you didn't, judges view it as a true statement, as it was uncontested.

"And, Pro stated in his conclusion that committing a crime is no excuse for not having a voice."
He means that commiting a crime is not enough of a reason to deny a voice (it is not an excuse to bar voting). It could be interpreted either way, but given the context, it is evident what he meant.
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
In other words, we could 100% agree with you that this rapist should never be able to vote again, or even be put to death, and yet disagree with your resolution.
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
> If someone rapes a family member of mine, HE should NEVER have a "voice".

Your resolution addressed the broad class of felons. Felons includes people who have too much of an illegal substance on hand, who assist someone in committing suicide, or who carry a 30-round magazine in Washington, D.C. You have not made a strong case why justice/fairness calls for eliminating the rights of these people to vote, and further, why that outweighs the uncontested benefit to society of rehabilitation by maintaining their links to the outside world when they will almost certainly be released someday.
Posted by BigSky 4 years ago
BigSky
sorry deadlykris, my bad :p
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
mbelliardoJohnnyCTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: See RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Khaos_Mage 4 years ago
Khaos_Mage
mbelliardoJohnnyCTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Frankly, I was disappointed in both sides. Neither side sourced their claims, S&G was equal. Conduct goes to Pro because Con complained about Pro restating their argument that there is harm to felons due to their inability to vote. Con merely copy and pasted others' words as his argument, instead of using their words to buttress his own position, ergo, they were not really Con's arguments, they were Mill's and Feinberg's. Also, when Pro mentioned the harm to felons, the only point Con made, Con did not respond. The arguments were basicaly: barring voting hurts felons vs. who cares, they hurt others. The resolution was vague and needed clarification. When referring to felons, are you talking about any felon, or those currently prison, or those who have been out for 20 years? I would likely accept a challenge on this debate if either debator wanted to issue one.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 4 years ago
Deadlykris
mbelliardoJohnnyCTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The arguments presented on both sides were rather weak, in my opinion. In the final tally, I think Con presented a better argument against allowing felons to vote, than Pro did in arguing for their right to vote. A felon is someone who willingly throws his rights away in order to try and trample the rights of others. Therefore it is just to deny him certain rights in the pursuit of justice.
Vote Placed by Grantmac18 4 years ago
Grantmac18
mbelliardoJohnnyCTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct, S&G, and sources were all even; Pro was awarded arguments for simply establishing that restricting the right to vote would be a violation of basic human rights. I was enthused to read this debate when I saw the subject and I do feel this topic should be revisited. That being said, on to the voting: Con's position was substantially weakened by labelling all felons as not being worthy of basic human rights because of the actions of violent criminals. Con focused far too much on free speech and it's limitations, though it was certainly an interesting point, a prisoner casting a vote does not violate the safety, security, or well-being of anyone else. Conduct could likely be given to Con for Pro's, perceived, lack of effort.