Should Felons Be Allowed To Vote


The right to vote is a right that according to law is entitled to everyone, once you have reached the legal age of 18. But what happens if you break the law? Do you still have the right to choose elected officials, or once the law has been broken, has the right to vote been forfeited?

According to the constitution the Fourteenth Amendment grants to the states the authority to deny voting rights to anyone that has a criminal conviction. On paper this does seem to be pretty valid, if you break the law, things that at one time you were entitled to are now no longer allowed. If a murderer has been allowed to vote for a client, who may benefit the perpetrator, it is a safe bet that the victim’s family would be outraged. There was one incident in Israel, where the assassin of the late Yitzak Rabin was allowed to vote, which alarmed the former Prime Minister’s wife. There are two points in regards to why convicted felons should vote:

  1. Felons are still a part of society, and do engage in the democratic process. If laws are changed affecting the court system, this very well could impact their lives.
  2. The other point is this is one of many ways that lawmakers, in particular members of the Republican Party have tried to disenfranchise voters.

There are arguments in regards to both of these points. When you look at the war on drugs, many of the convicted felons happen to be minorities; and when voter turnout is low, it does favor the Republican Party, all one needs to do is to look at the mid-term elections of 2014, where voter turnout was the lowest since World War II; and there is pretty solid data, that the majority of voters from minority backgrounds do vote liberal.

What are the reasons though why felons should not be able to vote? Like everything else, there are limits to freedom, as ironic as that sounds.

  1. Many feel there is a reason people are in jail, and life is about choices. Should someone be allowed to make choices that could have an affect on other people’s lives?
  2. Voting is privilege; when someone broke the law they forfeited their rights. Ignorance is not an excuse, people should know better.

These are also valid points, and one needs to be responsible, but if people have paid their debt to society, it is important to integrate them into society. When felons are still doing time, should they still be allowed? I would say no, but when their debt is paid it is important to bring them back, and allowing them to vote is essential.