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Felons Should Be Able To Vote

886 words - 4 pages

They did their time, paid their fines, and stood in voter registration lines only to be denied. These American citizens, who are also felons, are being denied the right to vote due to disenfranchisement laws. In the United States, “Two states, Vermont and Maine, allow convicted felons to vote while in prison. Nine states permanently restrict certain felons from voting (until and if granted the state governor's pardon) even if those people have served their prison sentence, parole, probation, and paid all fines. The remaining 36 states fall somewhere in between,” (ProCon.org, 2009). Felons should have the right to vote, as they have paid or are paying their debt to society, and the ...view middle of the document...

In a case study Katsuki James Otsuka, et al., filed a Class Action suit against the California Registrar of Voters, Benjamin S. Hite, etc., for refusing to register them to vote due to their prior convictions as conscientious objectors. The refusal to register the plaintiffs to vote was based on California's constitution barring voters convicted of "infamous crimes." The California Superior Court ruled that Otsuka et al. should be permitted to register to vote, and that California's list of "infamous crimes" was too broad, and should be narrowed to "moral corruption and dishonesty." As a result of this case, all California counties attempted to bar from voting only those convicted of "moral corruption and dishonesty" (Otsuka v. Hite California Superior Court, 64 Cal. 2d 594. May 24, 1966.). In this case, the disenfranchisement is considered on a case-by-case basis, which is one possible alternative to a blanket law for all felons.
Obviously, not all agree that felons should be able to vote. The opposition states, "Individuals who have shown they are unwilling to follow the law cannot claim the right to make laws for the rest of us. We don't let everyone vote, not children, for instance, or noncitizens, or the mentally incompetent. We have certain minimum standards of trustworthiness before we let people participate in the serious business of self-government, and people who commit serious crimes don't meet those standards." (Clegg, 2004).
While this is a valid point, it is up to us as voting members of society to set these standards according to our best estimation of a democracy. In the 2008 Senate race with...

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