The history of voting rights in the United States can be seen as something short of hypocritical. It is said in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal”- but that famous statement is still debated and criticized today.
Brought up in a recent CNN Town Hall debate, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he would like to grant convicted felons and those who are currently incarcerated the right to vote. Fellow candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg said we should not allow them the right to vote.
The idea that someone who has committed a felony should have the right to vote while incarcerated is egregious. Ignoring a person’s socio-economic background, the person who committed the felony willingly gave up their rights when they committed the crime.
Voting isn’t the only right that felons lose. They also lose their right to own firearms, to travel outside of the country, jury duty, and employment in certain professions. This is all severely limiting in a country where every eligible citizen is encouraged to participate in our democratic republic.
One of the negative consequences of allowing felons to vote would be the massive swing in voting patterns towards the parties that support the cause, in this case the Democratic Party. Senator Sanders home state of Vermont allows felons to vote while in prison, whereas other states allow released felons the right to vote after a probationary period, but are still hindered by the aforementioned rights.
Voting while incarcerated could also prove troublesome to those in charge of the prison system. Internet and media access is limited to those incarcerated and elections rely on informed citizens to be read up on current issues so they may vote accordingly to their views. With limited access to up to date information, the incarcerated would be ill-informed to vote on current issues without significant cramming of information.
The Democratic strategy towards this issue is to appeal towards citizens on the national level, sometimes ignoring or unaware of local and state laws that would counter their policies, leading to practical fallacies in their proposed implementation.
Republicans, on the other hand, have maintained their conservative influence in a country that does not want to change with the times. This has led to a system that has worked for decades, but has been showing its faults in recent times. The issue of felon voting rights is one that most Americans would be inclined to agree with due to familiarity with the system already in place.
Simply put, felons should not be able to vote while in jail. This is not to say that they should not be able to vote at all, but while they are incarcerated their rights should remain revoked until they are released. The current system has been tried and tested and has allowed for our democratic republic to uphold the powers that it has granted its citizens.