Felons Right to Vote
The lines are long, it’s raining, it’s hot, or it may be cold, but exercising your right to vote is as important as all of your other civil rights. As Americans we have came a very long way when it comes to protecting our civil rights, and choosing the right candidate to protect our country. In 1964, three civil right activist set out to set up a voter’s registry for African Americans, but it was short lived because they were brutally murder by members of the Klu Klux Klan in Philadelphia, Mississippi((IMBD). This helped pave the road for African Americans to get out and register to vote.
Not long ago, only one-third of African Americans were registered to vote, and two third of the voters were white, because African Americans was terrified of voting, or they chose not to. While voting is a right that we all have, if you have committed a crime and it has been classified as a felon, in most states you are restricted from voting.
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Since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, there has been a significant increase of voters at the polls. It has increased significantly in the African America and Hispanic populations and due to this, President Obama, an African American, was voted into office in 2008, and is now serving his second term.
There have been many protests regarding felons voting and their civil rights being violated. While three great men lost their lives over such a significant cause in Mississippi, in order for a convicted felon to vote in Mississippi, his or her state representative must personally author a bill reenfranchising that individual. Both houses of the legislature must then pass the bill. Re-enfranchisement can also be granted directly by the governor. (“ProCon.org”).
Civil rights and voting rights are totally different. While most of us have this perception that these rights go hand and hand, that is not true. In 1788, Kentucky was one of the first states that stated felons were not able to vote (“ProCon.org”). When crimes are committed, most of us depict it as the individual making bad judgment. This is not always the case. Society has labeled felons as anyone that have broken the law. The laws have been broken, and felons are not always given the chance to redeem themselves. Instead of being judgmental, and shaking our heads, one should consider that in some states what is deemed a misdemeanor, may be a felony elsewhere.
Should this person still be kicked out, and verbally attacked by society when it comes time to go vote at the polls. Of course not, everyone will walk a straight, and narrow path once released from prison, or once they serve their time whether its parole or probation, but choosing our Commander in Chief should be a right that is not violated. Edward Feser wrote an article advocating for felons to vote. He states “if having felons vote it would contribute to society” (Feser). He makes a valid point, if we allowed felons their right to vote we would have more democrats with power, and felons would feel like they belong in society. The democrat’s needs to be enlarged and allowing felons to vote would serve as a plus for our country. However, many may ask, why we’re making such a big deal, and advocating for felons to have the right to vote?
Why do states that will restore their privileges have such a long process in place that it deters individuals from actually exercising their right to vote? Those against felons voting believe that those convicted of crime have shown bad-judgment, which proves them unfit to make good decisions, and untrustworthy especially when it comes to choosing the nation’s leaders (“ProCon.org”). Then those for the right for felons to vote asks questions like, why let them own houses, buy beer or liquor, pay taxes, marry, have freedom of religion or even let them back into society, but restrict their access to determine who runs our country.
There are currently two states that allow felons to vote from prison. Those states are Maine and Vermont. They allow felons to send in an absentee ballot to cast their vote. There are twelve states where felons may lose their voting permanently, nineteen states that allows their privileges to be restored after they complete their term of incarceration, parole and probation, four states that allows restoration after incarceration and parole, and thirteen states and DC after incarceration.
They don’t make it easy. The terms and conditions that are set aside for felons once they have already served their time seem like double jeopardy. Some of our nation’s greatest leaders have made their position clear: “I have written the Count Every Vote Act, which seeks to redeem a right that is fundamental to our democracy – the right to vote. And I’m proud that one of the many provisions of the Count Every Vote Act restores voting rights for ex-felons who have repaid their debt to society.”
We will always have a difference of opinion when it comes to the issue of felons voting. The main reasons that most individuals provide that are against felons voting, is they feel that they are not trustworthy and they’re a threat to society. If I was in charge of who could actually vote, I know a lot of individuals that are not trustworthy, if this is what society wants to base their opinion on, then we have a very big issue. We even have racists that openly admit that they are racists; we have had individuals acquitted of murder, than later admit they did it, but they still have the right to vote.
Ask yourself, what makes them any different from a convicted felon, besides they have not been convicted? What makes you different? What gives us the right to vote? If untrustworthiness is the best answer that can be given when it comes to felons voting, then half of our society should be banned. When I think of voting, I deem it as Freedom of Speech, which is one of our civil rights. By taking away their voting right, we may as well take away their Freedom of Speech too. Regardless of how severe the crime was and the conviction, there is still a fundamental question that remains, and this is whether felons should lose their right to vote? I think not!