Should Felons Be Allowed To Vote?

Allowing convicted felons to vote has been discussed in various forums. Arguments on both sides of the moot point are convincing and a discussions of the issues would shed better light on the debate.

Felons are the convicted criminals who by breaking the law have ceded their rights for participating in constitutional choices through voting. The question then arises what constitutes a crime significant enough to bar a citizen for life from voting.

Over 4 million American were ineligible to vote in 2000 and that number would have grown substantially to over 6 million by 2012. These numbers have increased over the years, because of both, increased imprisonment and more pervasive and restrictive, state voting laws. Almost 29 states bar former felons from voting and around eight states permanently deny rights of voting to anyone convicted of a felony. Disenfranchisement laws in state of California goes as far as to deny right of voting to a person convicted of driving motor vehicle without a muffler!

Shorland explains further that twenty-three states have eased up on voting restrictions since 1997 however Florida and Iowa have increased restrictions. The right to vote has much larger impact then the policy being just an academic dispute. In 2000 elections Florida’s decision was dependent on 500 odd votes – a state where around million voters are barred from voting. There has been some discussion on methodology to vet past felon for voting rights but deciding minimum threshold is not going to be an easy chore.

Clegg opines that although common sense does dictate that disenfranchisement laws should be disproportionately applied. He agrees the laws should be cognizant of severity of felon’s conviction but then he also acknowledges that coming to consensus and drafting a statute agreeable to all states would be practically impossible. Are the serious crimes offenders like rapists, murderers and like should be barred or minor nonviolent offenses which are classified as felonies should also be included in the same mien as serious criminal offenders? The current solution is restoring right to vote on case by case basis on the basis of application by the affected. This restriction has significantly undermined former offenders from integrating back in society.

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