YOU DECIDE: Voting Rights for Ex-Criminals?

Posted by on Jan 16, 2019 in You Decide!
close-up view of hands clasping thru bars in a jail cell

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In November, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that, for the first time, allows Florida residents with felony records to vote. According to the new amendment, anyone who has completed their prison sentence is eligible to vote, though people who have been convicted of murder or felony sex offenses still are not. The initiative, which took effect last Tuesday, received widespread, bipartisan public support. Nevertheless, some are still reluctant to allow ex-criminals to vote.

Based on what you’ve heard and seen in the news . . . You Decide: should ex-felons be allowed to vote?

YES

  • Before Amendment 4 passed, Florida was one of only three states that didn’t allow people to vote after they completed their prison sentences.
  • Amendment 4 expands voting rights to as many as 1.4 million people–or as much as 9.2 percent of the total voting-age population in Florida.
  • Minority groups are arrested and incarcerated at a higher rate than non-minorities. Allowing ex-felons to vote will give minority groups a greater political voice. In fact, before Amendment 4 passed, more than 21 percent of potential black voters in Florida were ineligible to vote because of their criminal records. Nearly half of the people who have received their voting rights back as a result of Amendment 4 are black or Latino.
  • People who have finished paying their debt to society should have the same rights that every other citizen has, including the right to vote.

NO

  • Ex-felons have made poor decisions in the past and should not be trusted with the right to vote.
  • Courts have argued that the U.S. Constitution may not support restoring voting rights to ex-criminals. The 14th Amendment states that the government may take away a person’s right to vote due to “participation in rebellion, or other crime.”
  • In the past, formerly incarcerated people had to wait five years after finishing their sentences before they could apply to get their voting rights back, and even then, their application had to be approved by the governor. Sticking with this method would help ensure that ex-felons are truly reformed before being given the right to vote.
You decide

Credit: McGraw-Hill Education

Should ex-criminals be allowed the right to vote?

  • YES. They have served their time and it's undemocratic to continue to keep them from voting. (68%, 169 Votes)
  • NO. Ex-felons might make poor voting choices and should have to prove they are reformed in order to get their right to vote back. (32%, 79 Votes)

Total Voters: 248

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