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Why are people who commit felonies no longer allowed to vote?
November 3, 2000 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Why are people who commit felonies no longer allowed to vote? Are they no longer citizens?
posted by donkeymon (24 comments total)

 
They're still citizens, but according to this background article, convicted felons are denied the right to vote in 13 states by laws based on the 14th Amendment, which specifically gives states the authority to deny voting rights to those found guilty of "participation in rebellion, or other crime."
posted by m.polo at 1:48 PM on November 3, 2000


It's a good rule. It stops all those poor and black people from voting. They ruin EVERYTHING.
posted by Doug at 1:59 PM on November 3, 2000


Here's a handy dandy link from the Straight Dope:
Why Can't Felons Vote?

posted by smackfu at 2:01 PM on November 3, 2000


If a person comits a serious crime against society then they no longer wish to participate in the community in ways to make it better and that includes voting.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 2:17 PM on November 3, 2000


Doug, are you a card-carrying member of the KKK or just a Grand Wizard?
posted by Brilliantcrank at 2:17 PM on November 3, 2000


I'm fairly sure Doug was employing sarcasm.
posted by waxpancake at 2:50 PM on November 3, 2000


"Sarcasm"?

Must be a White trait..
posted by schlomo at 2:53 PM on November 3, 2000


We gotta keep those pot smokers from voting somehow.
posted by snakey at 3:06 PM on November 3, 2000


the argument being made here isn't that people who commit serious crimes shouldn't be able to vote. the argument is that certain types of crimes, in particular drug crimes, appear to be impacting african americans franchise rights in numbers beyond what the raw percentages of use would indicate.
posted by lescour at 3:18 PM on November 3, 2000


Of course, they can always just run for president instead. =P
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 3:20 PM on November 3, 2000


Incidentally, voting rights for incarcerated felons is a ballot issue in Massachusetts next week (Question 2). The MA state Constitution specifically allows such voting, but the measure would amend it.

Stopping this would be a good reason to show up to vote, even if (like me) you are tempted to just deface certain other sections of your ballot.
posted by tingley at 3:25 PM on November 3, 2000


"We gotta keep those pot smokers from voting somehow."

Yeah, but there should be some office or kiosk somewhere they can visit to have their nasal cleanliness verified, say after a twenty-year "contemplation period" in prison & an admirable do in an appropriate faith-based program.
posted by EngineBeak at 3:29 PM on November 3, 2000


Nope, Doug was *trolling*.

Worked, too. :-)
posted by baylink at 4:18 PM on November 3, 2000


I should note here that we already did "second order results of inequities in the criminal justice system" *to death* a couple months back...
posted by baylink at 4:19 PM on November 3, 2000


sarcasm is not trolling.
posted by gluechunk at 4:42 PM on November 3, 2000


I just wanted to know if there was any actual reason for the prohibition, because I couldn't think of any. And from what I have read there is no actual reason; just that things haven't quite caught up yet. Sorry to use you all in my self-serving quest for knowledge, and thanks for all the sarcastic comments!
posted by donkeymon at 4:54 PM on November 3, 2000


I have long thought it is wrong to take the vote away from felons. The only crimes I think are serious enough to merit removing this basic right/privilege are crimes that carry death penalties (or crimes that should, such as rape). Felons should also be allowed to purchase guns. Either you have paid for the crime or you have not, punishment must not last forever.
posted by thirteen at 6:11 PM on November 3, 2000


donkeymon: some reasons are detailed briefly herein.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:06 PM on November 3, 2000


Felons should also be allowed to purchase guns. Either you have paid for the crime or you have not, punishment must not last forever.

While I'm against the imposition of additional restrictions and punishments after the fact (as I said when talking about the loss of college loans for those with drug convictions) there's always a case for life bans to be imposed as part of a sentence. Persistently drive while drunk, you get banned from driving for life. Commit a crime with a firearm, you lose the right to bear arms. Again, it's the relationship of rights to responsibilities.
posted by holgate at 12:33 AM on November 4, 2000


I think felons should be allowed to vote. It's unfair to Bush to have such a large portion of his potential constituency denied the right to support a man like themselves.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:39 AM on November 4, 2000


Holgate: Commit a crime with a computer, you are never allowed to use a computer again?
I am uncomfortable drawing a line where we can remove rights. It seems equally unfair to remove the right to vote as it is to withhold tuition money. A ban for life is only a hair away from making a son responsible for his fathers crimes. I can live with probation, but not permanent removal of these privileges.
posted by thirteen at 3:29 PM on November 4, 2000


I can deal with people losing a lot of different rights but it seems to me that the right to vote is a little more fundamental to the fabric of the nation than the right to use a computer, or even the right to use a gun.
posted by donkeymon at 3:41 PM on November 4, 2000


Commit a crime with a computer, you are never allowed to use a computer again?

Last time I looked, you didn't need a licence to use a computer. (And yes, I know you don't need one to own a gun in most parts the US, but that's another issue altogether.)

But to take away the vote from those who've served their time is an arbitrary punishment. The British restrictions seem more sensible: the vote's denied to the certified insane, those currently imprisoned, and members of the House of Lords. Three groups with plenty in common.
posted by holgate at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2000


The British method does sound very reasonable. I know nothing of the House of Lords, are they a branch of Parliament, or a skinhead football club?
I can think of millions of people I do not want to have guns, but I am interested in a continuum of fairness. I cannot justify barring free men from owning a hunk of metal. If we cannot trust them, they do not belong among us, and should either still be in prison, or executed/banished. I was thinking of Kevin Mitnik when I made the computer analogy, I get the same bad tingle when I hear stuff like that, that I got when hearing about the voting gun ownership tuition stuff. I cannot emotionally draw a line separating them in any meaningful way.
posted by thirteen at 8:54 AM on November 5, 2000


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