I just came back from my last day in American Government class at the University of North Texas, and my professor was lecturing about Civil Liberties and Civil Rights in the United States and Texas. Of course she mentioned about the Civil Rights, Women's Suffrage, and the US Constitution among rights of the people and of those at risk of being charged with a crime. Towards the end, she mentioned that some people convicted with a felony and are either serving time in prison, on parole, on probation, or the combination could have their voting rights taken away indefinitely (in two states). So the question I want to ask you guys is: should their voting rights be taken away at any point of rehabilitation and when they are done serving time?
Below me are notes that I took during class that shows how many states follow this or that when it comes to how they punish criminals in regards to their voting rights.
-Two States (Maine & Vermont) do not disenfranchise
-Other states disenfranchise...
---During the course of incarceration (48 states)
---While on parole (35 states)
---While on probation (30 states)
---For the rest of their lives:
------Two states entirely (Kentucky & Virginia)
------Nine states for certain types of offenses
-The US is the only democracy in which people who serve their sentences can lose the right to vote permanently
-Other states restrict voting rights for a limited time, or only for those convicted of breaking electoral laws (example: buying or selling votes)
-In many nations, persons serving time in prison can vote:
---Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Romania Sweden, etc.
That should take care of some key points when it comes to how the United States and other nations handle the issue of voting rights. There is only one other interesting thing to point out, and it raises the question of if we do allow ex-felons to vote (not including those incarcerated, on parole, or on probation), does it make a difference? Well in the 2000 election it could have in Florida.
Florida at the time did not allow ex-felons to vote (the notes I took did not include Florida as one of the states that takes away ex-felons voting rights indefinitely, so they might have recently granted their rights back or there was an error in the lecture). When they asked them if they would, 35% of them said yes they would vote. 73% of those would have voted for Al Gore. Had the rights be granted for them, instead of Bush winning Florida by around 500 votes; Al Gore would have won Florida by 62,000 votes. Thus, winning him the presidency.
So in conclusion, I feel that they should get their voting rights back at least once they are done serving time in any shape or form. It seems wrong that after they served their time for any sort of punishment that they can't be trusted again to vote. However, when it comes to voting fraud (selling votes, stealing votes, or anything similar), that is the only time where I can understand why their voting rights should be taken away. Everyone has their own opinion, and should be able to express it by voting on their politician of choice to represent their beliefs. What about you guys?