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VOTING: Denying felons the right to vote is unconstitutional

Letter by Robert Randle, tacoma on June 21, 2010 at 10:45 am with 14 Comments »
June 21, 2010 10:45 am

Re: “9th Circuit should rule against using Voting Rights Act to let felons vote” (TNT, 6-17).

Before weighing in on this matter further, it seems prudent to read the U.S. Constitution to find out what it says about the “right” to vote, especially paying attention to the 15th Amendment, section 1, the 19th Amendment, the 24th Amendment, section 1 and the 26th Amendment, section 1.

The aforementioned constitutional amendments are the minimum set of guidelines set forth by the founding fathers of this democratic republic to guarantee every person enjoys the full rights of citizenship and freedom, to establish the common good and to promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to vote is certainly among these most cherished of our lofty ideals.

Not only that, but even the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech, and voting is a part of that “right.” For any state to enact felon disenfranchisement laws to keep felons from voting is clearly unconstitutional.

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. FreeAmerica says:


    How does a government take control of the people?

    Very liberal felony charges and stripping of constitutional rights.

  2. tubbythetuba says:

    Well, Duh…of course incarcerated people have a loss of rights. They have lost their Second Amendment rights, as well. All these rights can be restored as part of their parole completion.

  3. tubbythetuba says:

    Lets’s be totally honest….if Felons tended to vote Republician, and they DON’T, this would never be an issue with the Liberal Court System. Just as illegals vote for democrats. The ‘Crats are only bent on expanding their voter base. They care nothing for anyone’s rights. Witness low income Blacks: The Liberals have been stringing them along with promises for years and they are still slaves to the welfare system.

  4. APimpNamedSlickback says:


    Where are you getting this idea that disenfrachising felons from the electoral process during their sentences is unconstitutional? The four amendments that you listed have nothing to do with the voting rights of felons. Instead, they deal with the rights of women, people over the age of 18, and racial/previous slave status, and the prohibition of poll taxes.

    If felons can have their right to own guns taken away, why not the right to vote? Voting should be reserved for those who have a vested interest in the success of the political/legal system they are weighing in on. To allow felons to vote would be to allow a non-shareholder to have some level of control over the assets of shareholders (shareholders being those who obey the law and support the system). Besides, juries are drawn in part from voter rolls. We couldn’t have juries composed of people with demonstrated contempt of the law, so felons would have to be excused outright from jury service, thus giving them the benefits of voting without sharing one of the costs. That would, in effect, place an unfair burden on the law-abiding.

    Oh, and by the way, the founders didn’t write any of the amendments you listed.

  5. Sumner401 says:

    “.if Felons tended to vote Republician, and they DON’T”
    “illegals vote for democrats”

    Those rank right up there with ‘bush is bi-partisan’ as the most ridiculous statements I’ve heard in a very long time.

  6. Sumner401 says:

    “Voting should be reserved for those who have a vested interest in the success of the political/legal system they are weighing in on.”

    How are felons excluded from having a vested interest?
    If anything they have a bit more. Can you explain what you mean by this?

    Once a person has served their time restoration of their rights should be automatic. No hoops, no nothing, full restoration of all rights.

  7. Roncella says:

    Sum401, Its always interesting how concerned liberals/progressives are with the rights of muderers, rapists, thiefs, etc.

    Its too bad some of that same concern could not be shown for the victims and their families, and police officers.

  8. APimpNamedSlickback says:


    I agree on the point of automatic restoration, but I feel that restoration of any suspended rights should wait until every single aspect of a felon’s sentence has been completed to the letter. That means every prescribed day in prison was spent in prison, every prescribed day of probation was compelted to the satisfaction of the probation officer, and every penny of any fine assessed has been paid off. Until every single condition has been met, the felon is still under sentence and should not have any right restored.

    Now, as for your question. The law-abiding have a vested interested in the success of the political/legal system they weigh in on, in that the purpose of voting is to set laws and to elect other individuals who will set and enforce laws. Law-abiding individuals have an interest in voting because they — as people who follow the rules — will abide by the outcome of any given election, even if it is not the one they choose. (For example, I voted for John McCain, but as a law-abiding individual, I accept that Barack Obama is my president. No matter how much I dislike it, my disdain for that fact does invalidate the bills he has signed into law, nor does it allow me to pick and choose which of those laws I will follow.)

    Felons, on the other hand, are by definition people who do not obey the law. They have no vested interest in the electoral process because regardless of the outcome, they will choose to behave however they wish. It is wrong to allow the people who refuse to comport with the rules of society which the rest of us follow to have a say in any contest that will decide who our leaders will be, what our laws will be, or how much the rest of us may have to pay in taxes.

    As I said before though, being a felon should not be a complete bar to participation in the electoral process. It should only prevent you from participating while under your sentence. It is possible for a person to develop civic responsibility, even if they’ve spent a lifetime defying the law. Once they’ve paid their debt to society, in full, they should automatically become fully participating members of society… but not until they’ve earned it.

  9. So does that altruism also include the lawful purchase and/or possession of a firearm and does the ability to run for public office even extend to pre-med murderers or those convicted of various other victim-ful felonious endeavors? Hope that they’re released in your neighborhood and not mine…

  10. Sumner401 says:

    Slickback, when I stated ‘once they have served their time’ I of course meant every bit of it.

    Thank you for explaining your opinion about felons, I happen to disagree with it.
    Not all ‘felons’ are ‘career criminals’, as you describe, and in my mind it doesn’t matter.
    I happen to think that every person, of every age and station in life has an equal interest in the out come of our elections.
    Committing a crime, owning property, attending school, it matters not. If you are a citizen of a nation you have an inheritance stake in the out come of it’s elections.

  11. Sumner401 says:

    You do know that supporting restoring a felons rights after they have served their time, doesn’t mean supporting clearing the prisons, don’t you?

  12. Sumner401 says:

    roncella, what have I said that would give such hateful ideas?
    Why do you always go to the extreme?

  13. APimpNamedSlickback says:


    Yes, my altruism does go that far. If they’ve paid their debt, they should be free to live wherever. Just like with sex offenders, its not the ones that have been caught that you need to worry about.


    I never said all felons are career criminals. But not every person has an equal stake in the outcome of elections. When a person chooses to break the law, whether its one time or many, they are setting themselves outside the bounds of society. They are rightly denied certain benefits of living within those bounds as a punishment. When the punishment is up, they should get those benefits back. But as long as they choose to remove themselves from structure that the rest of us live by, they have less of a stake in elections than the rest of us, if any stake at all.

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