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Illegal aliens have been voting in California and they are not supposed to be in the country.

Dead people have been voting in Chicago and they are not supposed be on Earth.

Then why should 38 states place restrictions on those convicted of felonies from voting?  Two states (KY and VA) have a lifetime ban for all felons.  Eight more states have a lifetime ban for a wide-range of felonies.  Twenty-eight more have some form of ban that at least temporarily restricts former felons who are not incarcerated.

I know, bad analogies because it is not legal for those illegals aliens or dead people to vote.

The Popular Opinion on Felons Rights to Vote

Well, if the popular reason for not letting felons vote is as explained by Roger Clegg, president of the conservative advocacy group Center for Equal Opportunity,¬† “If you aren’t willing to follow the law, you can’t claim the right to make the law for everyone else,” well then why not ask a similar question of those who have filed for bankruptcy?

Other Legal Comparisons

Doesn’t that logic lead to the conclusion that if you are not able to manage your own financial affairs, you cannot claim the right to make financial decisions for everyone else? ¬† Should people who have totally mismanaged their financial affairs and stuck the bill to other members of society be allowed to vote on tax increases, bond measures, or state expenditures?

The United States has had various forms of bankruptcy to citizens since 1800 and never considered politically disenfranchising those citizens who availed themselves of the law.

It really doesn’t make sense to me to keep a person from voting 10 years after they completed a sentence for felony possession of marijuana, but never take away the right to vote from someone who just filed bankruptcy (often multiple times) and deprived their creditors of their property and money.

How the Constitution Fits into It

Of course, there is no constitutional basis to deny the right to vote to those who have gone through bankruptcy the right to vote.¬†¬† There is however, arguably a constitutional basis for denying those convicted of crimes the right to vote.¬†¬†¬†¬† According to the Supreme Court case Richardson v. Ramirez, 418 U.S. 24 (1974), the 14th Amendment authorizes states to deny the vote to convicts. Part of the amendment¬† reduced a state’s representation in Congress if the state has denied the right to vote to otherwise eligible citizens for any reason “except for participation in rebellion, or other crime.”

Assuming the states have authority to restrict the right to vote for felons, should they?

In Favor of a Felon’s Right to Vote

If our republic is predicated in part on the idea that political participation by the citizenry is a good thing, we should probably do what we can to get as many citizens as possible to vote.  With only about 40 percent of registered voters voting in presidential elections, it is not like we have overcrowding at the ballot boxes.  That optimistic 40 percent number is even far lower in areas where former-felons tend to live.

Not only is having former felons vote presumably good for the democratic process, it advances societies goals of rehabilitating the former felon by allowing participation in an fundamental part of American society.

The famous revolutionary and patriot James Otis described being taxed without a vote as tyranny.¬† His phrase “taxation without representation is tyranny” summed up the primary grievance that led to the American Revolution. ¬† Denying a free adult the right to vote in a representative government is still tyranny.¬† Unless the crime involved some form of voter fraud, let’s not subject former felons to tyranny.

What do you think? Should felons have the right to vote?

Written by Mathew Higbee, Esq

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3 Responses Leave a comment

  1. Lee Huang says:

    Thanks for this great post. I agree, let them vote. It’s very great to c someone take a stand.

  2. Automatic Robot Man says:

    Keep posting stuff like this I really like it.

    -X Felon

  3. jared says:

    nice one good points man! i like the bankruptcy thought

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