01 Mar Voting Rights of Citizens v/s Voting Rights of Convicted Criminals- Should there be a difference?
Is voting a fundamental human right, or is it as much an opportunity as having quiet neighbors and being permitted to drive? The world is torn over this subject, with some countries enduringly disenfranchising criminals (i.e., withdrawing their right to vote) and others sanctioning felons to vote even while they’re in a penitentiary.
The U.S is among those nations in the world who withhold the vote to those who have been sentenced to a felony offense. In the U.S. Constitution, according to the Fourteenth Amendment, section 2, it ultimately allows the states to choose rules about disenfranchisement “for participation in rebellion, or other crime.” It’s up to the states to decide which offenses could be used as a base for disenfranchisement, and they are not bound to restrict this to felonies; however, in most cases, they do.
There are some key highlights to this case where those who are against it, believe:
Most prisoners have underage children, and these kids have no support for representation of their own political interests. But these parents can’t convince lawmakers to change public policy for (at least) their children to be able to vote. Also, the history tells us, that children of parents with a criminal background are at higher risk of becoming criminals and thus, it’s essential for these children to know their parents are voting because it provides them with a positive example of the behavior of contributing to the betterment of society. Many former prisoners ultimately rejoin society, and they may become our future neighbors. Strain theory in psychology states that society puts pressure on individuals to accomplish specific socially acceptable goals, and if they’re unable to meet these expectations, it causes strain that can eventually lead to crime.
Those who favor this argument have their set of critical points, they believe:
Crime is expensive, costing taxpayers–and the government–billions of dollars per year. Additionally, the amount of time and resources designated to court trials takes away from time spent towards community productivity, and none of this brings into count the fact that crime is hurtful to its victims. As such, it doesn’t seem ethical that felons who have such a huge negative impact on the social order should be allowed to be part of the decision-making method that contributes to that order. Not all sentences conclude with a period of jail time; some have effects that last across a criminal’s life. For example, in many U.S. states, sex offenders aren’t allowed within a vicinity of schools, playgrounds, or daycare centers, even after they’ve served their sentence. Proponents also shared the logic behind this- We can’t trust the judgment of convicted felons.
In 2016, Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe took administrative action to restore voting rights to at least 173,000 ex-felons. In April, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo-signed an executive order to restore voting rights to felons on parole. Florida may be next after them for this change. In July, the Florida Supreme Court heard discussions wherein, whether laws excluding criminals from the right to vote are constitutional. In November, the state will vote on a ballot measure to restore ex-felons’ voting rights automatically upon completion of their sentence. These choices will affect a large segment of Florida’s voting-age population and continue to build a strong precedent for other states. Florida has historically played an essential role in American elections. Yet roughly 10 percent of Floridians can’t vote because they have been convicted of felonies.
So, in a nutshell, some believe that after committing heinous crimes one should get exempted from voting, and some think that voting is a human right and in exceptional cases, it should be allowed to an individual.