Should Felons Be Allowed To Vote? The disenfranchisement of a person is a heavy topic that you only hear about every four years during the Presidential Election. Why though? The reason: everyone has an opinion on the issue, but only few are willing to say anything about it. Some are afraid of the racial issue our country sees, and some are afraid to sway against their preferred political party.
The Constitution of the United States of America, amendment 14, section 2, clearly states “…citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State. ” (US 1876) Of course, this has been ratified some and the age was changed from 21 years of age to 18 years of age in 1971 in the added 26th amendment (US 1971) and women were given the 14th amendment in 1971 as well in the 29th amendment. US 1971) In 95 years, the Constitution was amended to include women and to change the minimum age of voting. In estimate, 5. 26 million people across the United States are disenfranchised (numbers established in 2004; ProCon. org) The U. S. PopClock projects that in the month of December 2011 there is approximately 312,764,889 people living in the United States. (Census. gov) According to self-calculations, approximately 1. 7% of all citizens cannot vote due to being disenfranchised.
Take into consideration, the 312. 8 million people who live in the United States includes children under the age of 18 who are not able to vote due to the 26th amendment of the Constitution (US 1971). “Proponents of felon re-enfranchisement say that felons who have paid their debt to society by completing their sentences should have all of their rights and privileges restored. They argue that efforts to block ex-felons from voting are unfair, undemocratic, and politically or racially motivated.
Opponents say felon voting restrictions are consistent with other voting limitations such as age, residency, sanity, etc. , and other felon restrictions such as no guns for violent offenders and no sex offenders near schools. They say that convicted felons have demonstrated poor judgment and should not be trusted with a vote. ” (ProCon. org) While there seems to be more opponents than proponents, Governors from across the nation have been passing laws into their respective states that are allowing the re-enfranchisement of felons.
For example, Florida made an effort in 2008 to find disenfranchised persons who had completed their sentence, to register them to vote so they could vote for the next President. (New York Times, 2008) Governor Kaine of Virginia (D), in 2008 had stated that giving disenfranchised persons more rights would cause them to turn into more productive citizens. (StoptheDrugWar. org) In Kentucky, Governor Beshear (D) says that allowing disenfranchised persons to vote in an election makes perfect sense and had pardoned over 700 felons 5 months prior. (StoptheDrugWar. org Aug. 2008)
Most states have some sort of rules when it comes to the disenfranchisement of felons and their voting rights. Two states allow prisoners, persons on probation and parole to vote, thirteen states allow people on probation and parole to vote, five states where only people on probation can vote, nineteen states where all people with felony convictions can vote upon the completion of their mandated sentence, seven states where only some people with felonies are allowed to vote, and only four states that have permanently banned people with felony convictions from voting. American Civil Liberties Union) “…Convicted felons automatically lose their right to vote in elections. Blacks and Hispanics represent a disproportionate number of those convicted of felonies. In the state of Iowa, which has only a 2% Black population, nearly 20% of all convicted felons are black. In many states, nearly 80% of the convicted felons are black and Hispanic. These people are effectively removed from the voter roles, even if their crimes were relatively minor and happened years ago, and the felon has lived a law abiding life since then. (Mercy Alone) “Many felons are convicted simply because they are too poor to afford a private attorney” (HubPages), and the price to retain a private attorney is $10,000 for felony cases. (Criminal Defense Lawyers and Attorneys) In most cases if you are appointed a public defender, the accused will take a plea bargain, just because their attorney doesn’t have much time for the case due to the high volume of clients on the docket. Once a person has been disenfranchised, they don’t only have to worry about losing their voting rights.
They now have to worry about how a prospective employer will look at them with their felony conviction, if they can receive government assistance for food and cash, where they are going to live, and how their community is going to accept them for their new background. Fortunately, most felony convictions are only required to be disclosed for seven years from sentencing, but it will always be there in the background. MLA Citations oUS Const. , art. 14, sec. 2. oUS Const. , art. 26, sec. 1. oUS Const. , art. 29, sec. 1. oProCon. org. “Felon Voting. Should Felons Be Allowed To Vote. 23 Jan 2009. oMoore, Solomon. “States Restoring Voting Rights for Ex-Convicts, but Issue Remains Politically Sensitive. ” The New York Times. 14 Sept 2008. oGuard, David. “The Sentencing Project: Disenfranchisement News. ” Felony Disenfranchisement. 08 Aug 2008. StoptheDrugWar. org. o”U. S. Census Bureau. ” U. S. POPClock. 12 Dec 2011. U. S. Census Bureau oAlone, Mercy. “The Felony Scams In America. ” HubPages. 10 Oct. 2009. oQuisenberry, Raniel. “Criminal Defense Lawers Fees. ” Criminal Defense Lawyers and Attorneys. 2010-2011.