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Debate: Ex-felon right to vote

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Should ex-felons have the right to vote?

Contents

Background and Context of the debate

In many states, ex-felons, that is people who have served their entire sentence and, thus, theoretically, have paid their debt to society, do not have the right to vote.

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Yes

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Ex-felons tend to be poor and/or African American. A statistical study conducted in 2001 by Uggen and Manza found that 7 percent of African Americans in the United States were subjected to felony disenfranchisement laws, compared to 1 percent of all other racial groups. Therefore, laws preventing them from voting are intrinsically unfair.

These laws also give an unfair advantage to the Republican party, because the poor and African Americans tend to vote Democratic. It is no surprise that most of the felon disenfranchisement laws were sponsored by Republicans. In fact, in 2003, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors told the Washington Post: "As frank as I can be, we're opposed to [restoring voting rights] because felons don't tend to vote Republican."

The study by Uggen and Manza found that, if felons had been allowed to vote in Florida in 2000, Al Gore would have won the vote in this state.

Once they have completed their sentence and are no longer in prison, or on probation or parole, ex-felons have paid their debt to society, as determined by a judge. Disenfranchisement amounts to an extrajudicial punishment.

Other democratic countries do not disenfranchise ex-felons.





No

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By committing a very serious crime, ex-felons have demonstrated their disrespect for the law. Therefore, they should have no input in determining who writes these laws.




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Yes

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No

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Pro/con bibliography

Yes

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  • Krajick, Kevin. "Why Can't Ex-Felons Vote?"The Washington Post 18 Aug. 2003

<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A9785-2004Aug17.html>.

  • Petersilia, Joan. When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Uggan, Christopher, and Jeff Manza. 2001. "The Political Consequences of Felon Disenfranchisement Law in the United States." Washington, D.C.: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Washington, D.C. 12-14 August.




No

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