Yes, Criminals Should Vote
Start writing a post

Criminals Have The Right To Vote Just As Much As Anyone Else

Every single person should have the right to vote.

9
Criminals Have The Right To Vote Just As Much As Anyone Else

The Fox News article "Meghan McCain and Whoopi Goldberg clash over voting rights for Boston bomber: 'He is a terrorist!'" by Sam Dorman discusses a question posed on "The View."; Should felons, or people in prison be allowed to vote? Specifically, should the Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, be allowed to vote? The exchange came as a result of the Presidential Town Hall where Bernie Sanders supported the right to vote for convicted felons, terrorists, and sex offenders, even while they are still incarcerated. He states that "Every single person should have the right to vote."

The View co-host, Meghan McCain, a white republican, states on Twitter, "No one who thinks literal terrorists deserve the right to vote has any business leading our country. Full stop." This public statement refers to her lack of support for Sanders' ideas. Another cohost of The View, Whoopie Goldberg, a known Democrat, supports this idea. She states that ""Our Constitution says if you've done your time, you have — we hope — been reformed, you've been changed ... If they let him out, that means they feel his time is up and he gets to become the American citizen again."

Bernie Sanders makes a compelling argument when he says "Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, 'That guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,' you're running down a slippery slope." In his statement, he is defending the right to vote of all people who have committed crimes, regardless of what crime. This is important because the current prison statistics are heavily stacked against people of color, minorities, and people of low socio-economic status. Many incarcerated people committed drug crimes, in states where those drugs are now legal, but they have not been released, nor have their criminal records been expunged. Prison is as much a social justice issue as the right to vote, however, I am choosing to focus on the right to vote.

The questions raised by this article are: Do people who have committed crimes have the right to vote? Do they have the right to vote after they have been released from prison? Do they have the right to vote inside prison?

Ethically, what is the right answer?

This topic is especially interesting in the context of ethics (where we want to do the right thing, but do not know what that is,) because the people we are talking about have, in some way, chosen not to do the right thing, and are convicted criminals. This assumes that every person found guilty by our justice system did actually commit the crime of which they have been accused. It has already been stated that the demographics of incarcerated people do not match the demographics of the population at large, and so there is some social justice issue at work disturbing the equality of those numbers.

From my perspective, the right to vote should be seen as an obligation more than a right, and an act of fulfilling a duty. The ability of a person to fulfill their purpose in a democracy would be dependent on their ability to vote, because voting is the foundation of democracy. Even at that basic level, fulfilling their duty is dependent upon the ability to vote. Some argue that incarcerated people have been removed from society and so democracy, but that is not the case financially, and certainly is not true for the people who are incarcerated and then released. All tax-paying citizens support the prison system, and no incarcerated people have their U.S. citizenship revoked when they are incarcerated. This indicates that we are all part of the same system, and the same democracy, and therefore on that basic level, all have the same duty to vote.

If the inequalities that put certain groups of people into prison more than others cannot be addressed by this debate, then let the equality of vote be addressed. The right to vote should be given all people living within a democratic society, including those who have been convicted of crimes, and who are still serving sentences for their crimes. A number of ethics theories state that some duties are absolute, and although voting is not one of the duties listed in those theories, they can be extended to people living in a society that requires certain activities for that society to function. The defense of the vote for criminals, in turn, defends the rights of the marginalized people that the justice system has systemically failed. Defense of the right to vote defends democracy, which is what our country has sworn to do, domestically and abroad.

I personally feel that the right of a terrorist to vote is offensive, however, I must check my own privilege when I say that. That terrorist may absolutely disgust me, but does that mean that I should support the erosion of the rights of others based on his crimes? I am a college educated, working, white, cis, woman. I have never been convicted of a crime, and I have never been inside a prison. I don't know anyone who has committed a crime for which they have gone to prison. So, I have a lot of ignorance on this subject. However, I do know that the statistics of prison populations are severely skewed against minorities, people of color, and people of low socioeconomic backgrounds. I believe in democracy, and I believe that supporting the right to vote is a function of that democracy. I believe that removing the right to vote from certain people is a way to further discredit, disenfranchise, and make powerless the same people already being systematically injured by the justice system. This injury may prove beneficial to those in politics who choose to take advantage.

For this reason, I believe we must protect the right to vote for all U.S. citizens, regardless of their incarceration status.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

48413
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

121033
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments