SUFFRAGE • What is suffrage? • Are there certain groups of people in society whom you believe should not have suffrage?
Felon Disenfranchisement The Last Suffrage Battle
Background • Felon = criminal who has committed a felony (worst category of crime) • Disenfranchisement = Loss of suffrage = Loss of right to vote • Dates back to Greek and Roman laws (Arbiner, 2010) • In America from colonial days (Arbiner, 2010) • Increased after Civil War (Arbiner, 2010)
Position • While some believe felons have broken the social contract and put the purity of our democracy at risk by voting, ultimately felons who have served their sentence and are deemed as having good judgment by their parole officers deserve a second chance. • Therefore, our government should reflect on our pride in a democracy in which “everyone” votes, and outlaw lifetime voting bans on ex-felons out of prison.
Argument 1: Disenfranchisement is Racist! • Dates back to Reconstruction • Crimes: African Americans were believed to commit more often • 1 in 6 African American men (Nollins, 2009) • 2%-3% v. 13% (Nollins, 2009)
Counter-Argument For Disenfranchisement • Deters crime • HOWEVER…Little to no support from research • “Even extreme punishments such as the death penalty have exhibited no deterrent effects on crime”(Shutt-Vito, 2011). • Injustice
Argument 2: Unpopular • America believes in second chances • 72% of those who have committeddrug related crimes are disenfranchised for life (Nollins, 2009) • 80% of Americans for re-enfranchisement after criminal justice supervision as shown in recent polls (Shutt-Vito, 2011)
Another Counter-Argument For Disenfranchisement • Ruled constitutional by Supreme Court (1967) • “A felon has broken the social contractand may be disqualified from participation in the political franchise” (Nollins, 2009). • HOWEVER…They deserve a second chance upon review! • Various sources argue that it is ridiculous to keep former criminals from voting when they have rehabilitated themselves and are contributing members of society
Impact on Elections • Republican advantage • 2/3 inmates= Democratic (Shutt-Vito, 2011) • 6/7 inmates support popular Democrats (Shutt-Vito, 2011) • Hundreds of thousands in Florida were unable to vote in 2000 (Tonry, 2008)
RECAP: Disenfranchisement Hurts America • Racist • Unpopular • Influences elections