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#888712 - 06/04/02 02:39 PM Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
In some states, ex-cons, no longer on parole, cannot vote. They may have been fine, upstanding citizens for years, but they are denied this right. Is that fair?

I don't think so. What's your opinion?

Derick
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#888713 - 06/04/02 03:07 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
I said I'd chip in on this one.

Yes and no.

If convicted of a felony, a person should lose all the rights and privledges that the state deems he should forfeit, voting rights amongst them. The current lifetime ban on the ability to vote should be mitigated by what happens after the convicted felon serves his sentence. If a person can turn his life around and stay on the straight and narrow, I am in favor of returning voting rights after an adequate amount of time - say, 5 or 10 years.

The only exceptions would be directly related to political corruption. For instance, ballot box stuffing or vote buying.

Just my .02 cents. \:\)
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#888714 - 06/04/02 05:08 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
I think a convict who has served his sentence should have all his rights restored.
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#888715 - 06/04/02 08:41 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Brendan Offline


Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5303
Loc: McAllen, TX
Ask yourself this:

How many felons exercised their right to vote in the first place or would wish to exercise it in the future? I'd venture a guess that it's a small number.

If you want to punish an ex-con, take away rights that are also as "pedestrian," so to speak, but more necessary to daily life (for a period of 1-10 years, depending on the severity of the crime) - a drivers license is the first that comes to my mind.
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#888716 - 06/04/02 08:56 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
Brendan,

The question is not how to punish an ex-con, the question is whether an ex-con who has served his or her time should be allowed to vote in states where it is prohibited.

Derick
_________________________
Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.

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#888717 - 06/04/02 09:10 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Brendan Offline


Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5303
Loc: McAllen, TX
Here is an article from time that I came upon on Time\'s website, dated a while back:

***

Barred from the Ballot

BY AMANDA RIPLEY

Like all other ex-felons in New York State, Jean Sanders cannot vote while he's on parole. But because he is also barred from staying out past 10 p.m. or driving a car, disfranchisement does not top his list of concerns. When his parole ends in 2004, he will be free to cast his ballot.

If, however, Sanders had been released in any of 10 other states--Alabama, Iowa and Nevada among them--he would probably never be allowed to vote. In others, he would have to wait years longer. Currently, an estimated 1.6 million ex-felons nationwide cannot vote, according to Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen, authors of the forthcoming book Locking Up the Vote. Nearly a third of them are black.

Florida has the largest number of adults--roughly half a million--barred from voting because of a felony conviction. That's a threefold increase since 1988. In September 2000, a class action filed against Governor Jeb Bush charged that the lifetime ban is unconstitutional. "When you have 1 in 20 adult citizens denied the right to vote, it strains the notion that we're operating as a full democracy," says Nancy Northup, lead attorney on the case.

The lead plaintiff is Thomas Johnson, 53, a pastor. A decade ago, Johnson served eight months in prison for selling crack and carrying a gun. Back then, he lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn, two blocks from the house where Sanders grew up. While Johnson and Sanders don't know each other, they have much in common. Johnson was a junkie for 33 years, he says, until he turned to religion in 1995. Johnson has had no other convictions. Since 1996, he has run a successful residency program for ex-offenders in Gainesville, Fla., where he has a family and volunteers as a chaplain at the county jail. But when he tried to register to vote in 1999, he was turned away.

Over the past few years, five states have loosened their restrictions on felon voting. The National Commission on Federal Election Reform, led by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, recommended last August that all states let former felons vote. The change was not, however, included in the election-reform bill passed by the House last month. Opponents argue that convicted felons simply surrender their right to elect their leaders. "People have to have a certain level of trustworthiness and loyalty to be allowed to vote," says Roger Clegg, general counsel for the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative research group. "It makes sense that somebody who has been convicted of a serious crime does not have that loyalty and trustworthiness."

But for former criminals to construct new lives, Johnson insists, it's essential that they feel part of the citizenry, with its privileges and responsibilities. A trial is set in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for March 18.

***

I believe that all rights should not be granted upon release. In fact, the parole system seems to ensure that this doesn't happen. What I would like to see less of is the system's acceptance of ex-cons who merely "go through the motions" and more involvement in repatriation to society. Basically I feel that only in the most severe cases (rape, murder, or any other crime deserving of capital punishment) should a right be suspended indefinitely, that is if the convict is ever released from prison.
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#888718 - 06/04/02 09:33 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Anonymous
Unregistered


First of all, to me an individual on parole is not yet an ex-con. Until the entire sentence is served, and that includes parole in my book, the person remains a convict -- just one on parole.

To me, the question is one of whether or not we agree that the State confers upon us the right to vote. Or if that right is inherent in us as citizens. If the State confers it, they can take it away -- from convicts or ANYONE else.

To me, the people are sovereign. The states sovereignty flows from the people's. The Federal Government, of course, is a creature created by the separate sovereign states. Unlike the Divine Right of Kings, authority flows from the bottom up -- not the top down. This is what I tell the kids I teach the consitution to was the real revolution with American democracy coming out of the Enlightenment -- power and legitimacy flowing from the people, not from God to the King.

In this light, I do not believe the State has any right, at any time, to "unconfer" the right to vote -- since the State never conferred it in the first place. And yes, I am saying that even a person serving time, for whatever reason, including treason, has a right to vote. The State cannot deny the right because it never gave the right. If we say anything else, we give the state the ability to deny the right to vote to anyone they decide to.

Besides, I think Oliver North should be able to vote as an ex-con. Ooops -- I forgot... He got off because of the rights assured him because of that nasty ACLU's compunction to file suits to compel the government to live up to the Bill of Rights.

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#888719 - 06/04/02 10:34 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
I don't agree that convicts or those on parole should be allowed to vote. But I do agree that the right to vote, especially in a national election, should not be left up to individual states.

Derick
_________________________
Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.

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#888720 - 06/04/02 11:57 PM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
JohnC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
To answer your question Derick, in most instances yes, it is fair to deny ex-cons the right to vote.

Any felon who permanently infringes upon an innocent citizen's life, liberty, or the persuit of happiness (kills, maims, cripples, financially ruins etc. This is by no means a complete list. Did I mention drug dealers?) has no business asking for the restoration of their right to vote. As a matter of fact, I'll bet their victims would gladly give up the right to vote if they could otherwise be made whole again.

On a more general basis why does there seem to be so much more support for criminals' "rights" (is that an oxymoron?), than victims' rights? Why is all that time, money, and energy put into supporting persons much less worthy than their victims? Where are the bleeding hearts for those much more deserving?

With all of the problems needing attention today, how did our priorities get so screwed up? Did somebody drop the list, pick it up and not notice it was upside down?

BTW, Derick, this is not a shot at you for raising the question, but rather at the organizations and people who make it their life's work to so waste their talents.

As usual, just my $.02. But you did ask! ;\)
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There are few joys in life greater than the absence of pain.

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#888721 - 06/05/02 02:12 AM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
Derick Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 3290
Loc: New York
John,

I'm really not all that much in favor of giving ex-cons the right to vote as it may sound.

But here's where I'm coming from. Right after the 2000 election there was story after story about all the alledgedly disenfranchised voters. Then I saw a story about ex-cons being denied the right to vote in certain states. Of course, to make the story interesting (and perhaps because there is a liberal bias in the media), some rather sad stories were shown.

The one that stood out most was of an old, black, man who looked like anyones grandfather. He had commited a crime 50 years ago, robbery I believe, and has never been able to vote. I felt this was unfair. Here was a guy who did something wrong, did his time, and is still denied the right to vote because he commited a crime decades ago AND lives in the wrong state. That just doesn't seem fair IMHO.

Nevertheless, I'd go to 1000 WTO protests before I'd rally for the rights of ex-cons.

Derick
_________________________
Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.

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#888722 - 06/05/02 02:34 AM Re: Should ex-cons be given the right to vote?
JohnC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/02
Posts: 1672
Loc: Lower Left Coast
Derick,

That is the problem with any issue. Your example is one that not many people would disagree with. (Including me.) So that example becomes the poster child for all ex-cons getting the right to vote.

It happens all the time with a lot of issues that, IMO, don't rank too high up the priority list.
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There are few joys in life greater than the absence of pain.

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