May 21, 2024

Should Felons Be Able to Vote?

Around 5.2 billion people with felony convictions are barred from voting in U.S. elections. This is a massive amount of people. Each state has laws regarding felons’ voting, so it varies from state to state. Felonies are considered crimes that include some violence and are harmful to society. These include drugs, violent crimes, and theft but something we see as small can lead to a felony as well an example of this is owning a fake I.D. So this leads to the question should felons have the right to vote? There are many issues that need to be reformed in the justice system so solving this would be a good first step.

In 21 states, felons only lose voting rights during incarceration and instantly get their rights back. Felons lose their voting rights during incarceration and depending on the state a certain amount of their parole. Voting rights are automatically restored after this amount of time. Former felons may have to pay expensive fees in order to reinstitute their rights. This is not assessable for many who are just starting over and do not have much. In 11 states felons lose their voting rights indefinitely for some crimes this is understandable for crimes like murder or sexual violence but should not be applied to drug-related crimes.

Many argue that once felons have served their time they should be able to live normally so barring felons from voting is undemocratic and politically motivated. On the other hand, others say that since felons have demonstrated poor decision making they should not have access to vote.

On Aug. 5th, 2021 Maine and Vermont allow felons while in prison to vote being the only states in the country to do this. In every other state, felons must finish all or some of their sentence before starting re-enfranchisement. Re-enfranchisement means to give back full privileges of citizenship which include voting. Many view re-enfranchisement as unconstitutional as felons still pay taxes therefore they should have a say in the elections.

Pro felons voting

  • People should not have to jump through hoops to vote
  • Felons not voting is a form of gerrymandering, therefore, is undemocratic
  • Since felons still pay taxes they should have a say since they are paying like every other citizen
  • disenfranchisement disproportionately impacts people of color 

Against felons voting

  • They cannot be trusted as they have committed bad actions in the past
  • disenfranchisement is a fair punishment
  • They should have to prove their ability to reenter society
  • Prisoners will not benefit from their representation