Author Topic: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections  (Read 5417 times)

cherrypoptart

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Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« on: May 01, 2019, 01:31:29 PM »
https://www.yahoo.com/news/bernie-sanders-doubles-down-on-prisoner-voting-despite-political-risks-180327559.html

"Bernie Sanders isn’t backing away from his controversial proposal to allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections."


"If we are serious about calling ourselves a democracy, we must firmly establish that the right to vote is an inalienable and universal principle that applies to all American citizens 18 years and older. Period.

When we look at the history of why our country has banned incarcerated people from voting, we must understand that the efforts to rob citizens of their voting rights was a legacy of slavery and continuing racist attitudes post-Jim Crow.

After the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, which extended civil and legal protections to formerly enslaved people, many state governments rushed to create new felonies to put black people in jail and then institute lifetime disenfranchisement.

Our present-day crisis of mass incarceration has become a tool of voter suppression. Today, over 4.5 million Americans — disproportionately people of color — have lost their right to vote because they have served time in jail or prison for a felony conviction.

It goes without saying that someone who commits a serious crime must pay their debt to society. But punishment for a crime, or keeping dangerous people behind bars, does not cause people to lose their rights to citizenship. It should not cause them to lose their right to vote."

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Wow. Now that is really out there. I doubt anyone will be surprised that I wouldn't be in favor of this idea. So Timothy McVeigh gets to vote for years while he is waiting to be executed but obviously none of the over one hundred people who murdered would get to vote during that time period, or ever. I have to admit this makes no sense at all to me. It's kind of funny how language works and two people can say the word "fairness" and have such different ideas about what it means. I suspect letting everyone vote seems fair to some people but for murderers? That's just out there. Just my opinion though. I could be wrong.


TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2019, 01:47:02 PM »
Quote
Many countries permit persons in prison to vote. According to research by Penal Reform International,60 prisoners may vote in countries as diverse as the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, Sweden and Zimbabwe. In Germany, the law obliges prison authorities to encourage prisoners to assert their voting rights and to facilitate voting procedures. The only prisoners who may not vote are those convicted of electoral crimes or crimes (e.g., treason) that undermine the “democratic order,” and whose court-imposed sentence expressly includes disenfranchisement.61

Human Rights Watch

I'm not sure I have an opinion yet on whether this is good or bad. If people incarcerated under heavy handed drug possession laws could vote, that might have gotten fixed sooner. On the other hand, it could cause some very strange distortions, especially with respect to federal prisons. Especially a local election in a rural community where prisons tend to pop up.

msquared

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2019, 01:56:23 PM »
Is the right to vote removed for ever? I mean if a felon does his time and is released, does he get to vote then?  If they loose the right to vote only while they are in prison, that is one thing.  To loose it forever upon conviction is a different and more drastic measure.

TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2019, 02:04:11 PM »
It varies.

Quote
In Maine and Vermont, felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are incarcerated.
In 14 states and the District of Columbia, felons lose their voting rights only while incarcerated, and receive automatic restoration upon release.
In 22 states, felons lose their voting rights during incarceration, and for a period of time after, typically while on parole and/or probation. Voting rights are automatically restored after this time period. Former felons may also have to pay any outstanding fines, fees or restitution before their rights are restored as well.
In 12 states felons lose their voting rights indefinitely for some crimes, or require a governor’s pardon in order for voting rights to be restored, or face an additional waiting period after completion of sentence (including parole and probation) before voting rights can be restored. These states are listed in the fourth category on Table 1. Details on these states are found in Table 2 below.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2019, 02:09:51 PM »
msquared

"Is the right to vote removed for ever? ... To lose it forever upon conviction is a different and more drastic measure."

True enough. That is a fine issue to debate and one could fall on it either way and still be well within the realm of reason. Should people get their right to vote back after they are released, off parole, have repaid their debt to society, and all the rest of that good stuff? You could say yes, you could say no, or you could even say it depends on their crime. Should a murderer ever get to vote again after they took away the right to vote of someone else for life? Well, that's a good topic to debate.

But that's not what Bernie is saying here. He's saying they should be able to vote even while they are serving time for rape, for murder, for terrorist bombings that kill dozens, or worse. If the election is held the day before a convicted mass murderer's execution they should get to vote. I'm not sure I agree with that. Actually I'm pretty sure I don't. In fact, I'm just going to go all in and say I'm absolutely certain that's a very bad idea.

TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2019, 02:21:38 PM »
Actually I'm pretty sure I don't. In fact, I'm just going to go all in and say I'm absolutely certain that's a very bad idea.

What makes this a bad idea? Is it that they would make a poor choice? Is it because that part of their punishment should include loosing this right? Is it that it would devalue the franchise? Or would their absentee ballots be more ripe for fraud? Or could they be intimidated into voting the way a guard wanted them to? Could the ballot even be cast in secret, or would it have to be treated like all outgoing mail?

cherrypoptart

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2019, 02:22:23 PM »
Thanks for the heads up on the two states that are already doing this.

One can't help but wonder if and how much politics enters into the equation as much as conscience, with Democrats calculating the political benefit of prison voting while Republicans like the following one in Maine tending to fall on the other side of the issue because the votes would hurt their election chances. It's interesting though how often our consciences tend to align with what is politically advantageous, whether it be by coincidence or some guiding cosmic force.

I have to admit I was actually surprised to learn that two states do allow convicted rapists, murderers, and pedophiles to vote from prison but I was somewhat less surprised to find out they both lean heavily Democrat politically.

I would be interested to learn if the laws were always like that or if not, when they were implemented. My suspicion would be that it would have occurred when Democrats took over to secure their power, but that might just be cynicism rearing it's ugly head again. I should probably just look it up first so as not to look foolish later but I'll venture out on a limb anyway.


http://maineexaminer.com/in-maine-murderers-and-rapists-are-allowed-to-vote-from-prison/

Efforts to restrict access to voting for incarcerated felons have fallen short in Maine in recent decades. Efforts such as a 2014 proposal by Rep. Gary Knight (R – Livermore Falls) to restrict the ability of convicted murderers and those convicted of other Class A crimes, such as gross sexual assault, to vote from prison have been routinely voted down by Democrats in the Maine Legislature. In the case of the 2014 proposal, under the legislative procedure, Democrats only needed to muster enough votes to prevent passage of the bill by a 2/3 majority, but they still killed the bill with majority votes of almost all Democrats opposing the change in both the Maine House and Senate.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2019, 02:28:55 PM »
Actually I'm pretty sure I don't. In fact, I'm just going to go all in and say I'm absolutely certain that's a very bad idea.

Is it because that part of their punishment should include losing this right?

This. Yes, it is a cheap way to further punish them. Everyone talks about how much incarceration costs in terms of dollars but this costs nothing, at least financially. It's also just. I don't think most criminals are punished harshly enough as it is. Not hardly. Now bear in mind I'm on record standing in favor of Singapore style caning for violent criminals, rapists, pedophiles, and the like. Losing the franchise is the very least that should happen to them, and for the worst criminals permanently. Now for the lesser criminals I don't care so much. I'm not much in favor of them voting from prison but I wouldn't be outraged about it either. The idea of the Parkland shooter voting from prison every election for the rest of his life while the 17 young men and women he murdered never get to vote at all to me seems obscene and grotesque, a mockery of justice and all that is fair and right.

TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2019, 02:30:38 PM »
Quote
The only restriction on voting for those who are incarcerated for committing murder or other serious crimes is a requirement that anyone incarcerated in a state prison or county jail must register to vote in the municipality they established residence in before they were incarcerated, to which they intend to return.

That addresses one of my concerns.

TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2019, 02:32:22 PM »
I would think the best case could be made for people convicted of tax evasion...

TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2019, 02:56:42 PM »
Also, if we really want to punish felons, we should make them watch all of the debates and PAC ads. Except that might be a human rights violation.

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2019, 09:13:55 PM »
Cherry, McVeigh presumably doesn't vote because he is dead. Executed in record time.

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2019, 11:45:32 PM »
Also, if we really want to punish felons, we should make them watch all of the debates and PAC ads. Except that might be a human rights violation.

Maybe also make them read the minutes from all those public hearing on various and sundry issues relevant to the voting precinct they last had residence in.

Fenring

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2019, 01:11:16 AM »
The discussion seems to be ignoring what I see as the principal point in Bernie's argument, which is that the system simultaneously incarcerates large amounts of people who then lose the right to vote and do anything about it. Rather, they're left to the mercy and compassion of others, which as things stand, is not always much to rely on. And imagine arguing that the people in most trouble should also be the least heard. Now, some of them knew exactly what they did...but did they? We have to return to Socrates vs. Jesus on this one and debate whether sins occur only through ignorance (which is like a sickness to be cured) or through the knowing free will that they do wrong (and is thus wanton)? Well that's a fine debate to be had, but if we want to talk about systems that wrap up their own errors in a bow tie, it does seem tidy to be unfair to people, and as part of that unfairness, disarm their ability to change the system. We could argue all day about whether they "really" deserved their punishment, or were "really" bad people. But to even go that far we'd need to be able to inspect the system itself and determine whether the measures it employs are consistent with the values the populace holds.

In my view there is no doubt that the War on Drugs was an attack on black people, and in imprisoning them harmed the communities, and helped perpetuate a bad cycle. I'm no fan of arguments favoring reparations or anything like that, but I do know that when poverty is a starting place it will take a certain amount of cycles to self-correct. It's probably 2-3 generations or something before things begin to balance out - unless steps are taken to reverse that process. You are free to agree or disagree that this has happened, but what you must not do is to claim that this could not happen. It should be important to defend against the system being both unjust and also self-perpetuating, even if it wasn't actually happening. So arguments like this should be taken seriously, even just on principle.

Putting aside the matter of black history, I find it interesting that the posters here most likely to be believers in natural law don't consider the possibility that having a say in the outcome of your country might be a natural right, and therefore something not within the purview of a government to take away. This might be a side debate of its own, regarding whether democracy should be seen as a realization of natural rights (that people have a right to equal say) or whether it's just a social agreement with no obvious basis in anything fundamental. If it's just a social agreement then I suppose fiddling with it is legit; although that would be a position I'd more likely expect from a left-leaning argument. If it's deeper than merely a social agreement, then having your say would in theory not be predicated upon being of good behavior or of agreeable disposition. Just a thought.

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2019, 02:24:59 AM »
Actually I'm pretty sure I don't. In fact, I'm just going to go all in and say I'm absolutely certain that's a very bad idea.

What makes this a bad idea? Is it that they would make a poor choice? Is it because that part of their punishment should include loosing this right? Is it that it would devalue the franchise? Or would their absentee ballots be more ripe for fraud? Or could they be intimidated into voting the way a guard wanted them to? Could the ballot even be cast in secret, or would it have to be treated like all outgoing mail?

It's a terrible idea since it means that a small town with a prison like Ely Nevada doesn't get to elect its people and the prison takes over local elections.

Fenring

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2019, 02:39:05 AM »
It's a terrible idea since it means that a small town with a prison like Ely Nevada doesn't get to elect its people and the prison takes over local elections.

Wouldn't this particular objection be solved be declaring that prisoners are not residents of whatever town the prison happens to be in? This sounds like a municipal/county issue, not one about disenfranchisement from state or federal governance.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2019, 02:55:34 AM »
Pete at Home

"Cherry, McVeigh presumably doesn't vote because he is dead. Executed in record time."

He spent six years in prison before his execution. The question is should he have been allowed to vote during those years? Bernie says yes, absolutely.

It strikes me that if you had a high enough prison population and felon population that would be eligible to vote when they aren't now along with others, non-criminals who are persuadable, then like in some weird dystopian society they could actually vote for politicians, perhaps one of their own, who would by Constitutional Amendment make their crimes legal, perhaps just for a certain period of time each year. The Purge.

On a lower level we could see politicians winning elections with support to legalize drugs and perhaps lower the age of consent substantially since there are so many pedos in prison too.

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2019, 07:33:09 AM »
The problem here is that the DNC wants to keep the poor bastards in prison while getting their vote.

As probably the biggest natural rights advocate in the room, I am disgusted with the idea that voting is inalienable but physical liberty itself is alienable. Incredibly stupid model. Physical liberty is less alienable than Life, and only to life. Freedom of speech would come before voting. Freedom of association.





Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2019, 07:57:08 AM »
The problem here is that the DNC wants to keep the poor bastards in prison while getting their vote.

As probably the biggest natural rights advocate in the room, I am disgusted with the idea that voting is inalienable but physical liberty itself is alienable. Incredibly stupid model. Physical liberty is less alienable than Life, and only to life. Freedom of speech would come before voting. Freedom of association.

Considers and rejects as hypocritical this argumentf:

Quote
, I find it interesting that the posters here most likely to be believers in natural law don't consider the possibility that having a say in the outcome of your country might be a natural right, and therefore something not within the purview of a government to take away[/quotse]

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2019, 08:02:35 AM »
The solution, and the fed government's solemn constitutional duty, is  go through he laws and downgrade 90% of the felonies to misdemeanors. Having 2 ounces of weed is a felony in most states.


TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2019, 08:29:45 AM »
It's a terrible idea since it means that a small town with a prison like Ely Nevada doesn't get to elect its people and the prison takes over local elections.

Wouldn't this particular objection be solved be declaring that prisoners are not residents of whatever town the prison happens to be in? This sounds like a municipal/county issue, not one about disenfranchisement from state or federal governance.

That was my concern too. See above, quoted here, how vermont does it:

Quote
The only restriction on voting for those who are incarcerated for committing murder or other serious crimes is a requirement that anyone incarcerated in a state prison or county jail must register to vote in the municipality they established residence in before they were incarcerated, to which they intend to return.

That addresses one of my concerns.

TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2019, 08:32:55 AM »
On the other hand, at least Trump will lose votes from several of his former associates.  8)

Fenring

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2019, 10:41:15 AM »
Considers and rejects as hypocritical this argumentf:

Quote
, I find it interesting that the posters here most likely to be believers in natural law don't consider the possibility that having a say in the outcome of your country might be a natural right, and therefore something not within the purview of a government to take away

This seems like an objection with an argument to go with it. Is this an extension of your point about incarceration being a greater deprivation of rights than losing the franchise? If so, I see no 'natural' reason why a person should be free to go around harming others, and therefore incarceration doesn't seem to me to be a breach of natural law (if one subscribes to that). Rather, it would be more appropriate to see incarceration as being an active move of protection for the society. But that would indeed require incarceration to be justified on the basis of protection, rather than punitive retribution. But there is no necessary reason why a person's say in governance must be taken away, other than (as others mention above) another means of punitive retribution. The systemic argument that if you leave them the franchise they'll all gang up and take over seems to me overwrought, especially since in a more just society there wouldn't be nearly so many inmates.

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2019, 11:50:43 AM »
I find it interesting that the posters here most likely to be believers in natural law don't consider the possibility that having a say in the outcome of your country might be a natural right, and therefore something not within the purview of a government to take away. This might be a side debate of its own, regarding whether democracy should be seen as a realization of natural rights (that people have a right to equal say) or whether it's just a social agreement with no obvious basis in anything fundamental. If it's just a social agreement then I suppose fiddling with it is legit; although that would be a position I'd more likely expect from a left-leaning argument. If it's deeper than merely a social agreement, then having your say would in theory not be predicated upon being of good behavior or of agreeable disposition. Just a thought.

Natural Law also holds to choices having consequences, societies acting to protect themselves, and disenfranchising its more hardened criminal element CAN be justified as a protective measure.

As I consider it, Natural Law itself probably gets rather murky specifically in regards to Democracy itself for that matter. A good example would be the Founding Fathers being big natural law guys, and they didn't implement a Direct Democracy.

But getting back to Natural Law and disenfranchisement, I do think that practices currently in place have gone overboard, too many things are felonies, too many felonies have too harsh of a sentencing requirement.

I'd probably fall somewhere in the middle on this. Some felons simply do not deserve the right to vote, and should never be allowed to vote again. Any civil society which deliberately decides to allow Charles Manson to vote, even knowing his history(IIRC, he's dead, but for example), doesn't deserve the title of being civilized. Meanwhile there are a lot of other crimes that were swept up in the "tough on crime" politics of the 1970's through the 1990's(and to a lesser extent even up to today), and need to have their penalties, including disenfranchisement, looked at.

I'm game for some felons never losing their right to vote, just so long as some types of felons are never allowed to vote again. But really, I think our bigger problem is we have a lot of felons who likely shouldn't have been one in the first place.

Fenring

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2019, 12:34:49 PM »
Natural Law also holds to choices having consequences, societies acting to protect themselves, and disenfranchising its more hardened criminal element CAN be justified as a protective measure.

I'm not really sure what it protects anyone from. What is the danger, that they'll vote for Johnson? :p

Quote
As I consider it, Natural Law itself probably gets rather murky specifically in regards to Democracy itself for that matter. A good example would be the Founding Fathers being big natural law guys, and they didn't implement a Direct Democracy.

Implementation is always a question of judgement. I think one argument behind representative democracy is something to the effect of protecting the people from being poisoned by demagogues and liars, and from making self-destructive decisions. The irony. It turns out nothing can protect you from that.

I more or less agree with you about the rest, although I'm not sure why it's so clear why even hardened criminals pose some danger by voting. What are they going to do, vote for the cannibal party?

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2019, 01:24:33 PM »
I more or less agree with you about the rest, although I'm not sure why it's so clear why even hardened criminals pose some danger by voting. What are they going to do, vote for the cannibal party?

Jeffrey Dahmer might have.

In all seriousness though, I don't see anything to be gained by society in allowing people like Dahmer or Manson to practice the right to vote after they demonstrated they were incapable of operating in a civil society. They also made it very clear that civil society wasn't anything they were particularly interested in, I seriously doubt they bemoaned the loss of their voting franchise.

ScottF

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2019, 02:01:06 PM »
Why not make vote-no-vote decision with sentencing of each conviction? Convicted for a DUI accident that hurt/killed someone? You can still vote, or maybe not, depending on what the judge decides. First degree murder conviction that could be eligible for death penalty in some states? No vote for you.

ScottF

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2019, 02:02:48 PM »
Follow on question: can registered (but not incarcerated) sex offenders vote?

TheDrake

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2019, 02:28:04 PM »
Case by case decisions are ripe for abuse. This is the approach taken by states that require former inmates to petition for the restoration of their franchise. Often, many factors are used unevenly, including affluence. Barriers are put in place, like the need to travel - sometimes to the state capitol (Florida).

Sentencing is already bad enough as it is.

NobleHunter

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2019, 03:41:17 PM »
Another question is: does the government have the authority to deprive someone of the right to vote? There are amendments to the US Constitution which specifically require that certain classes be allowed to vote (or that no one be denied the right to vote based on certain categories) but the right to vote is otherwise among those reserved by the Ninth amendment. That may mean people convicted of only federal crimes should be able to vote. Though until and unless the right to vote is incorporated against the States, it's probably up to the constitution of the individual states for non-federal convictions.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2019, 05:27:20 PM »
I heard someone on the internet suggest that if Bernie is right and convicted murderers in prison have the right to vote according to the Constitution then they also still have their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and must be granted access to loaded guns. I thought that amusing but wasn't going to bring it up except that obviously, or perhaps not so obviously to Bernie, if you are a convicted criminal serving time in prison some of your Constitutional rights get taken away, and rightfully so.

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2019, 08:11:39 PM »
Tpplhe whole idea of a universal right to vote is so novel and the right against incarcerated so old that this whole argument is like allowing the government to tear out peoples tongues to gag speech but declaring Twitter a fundamental right.

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2019, 08:54:21 PM »
I think wasserman-Schultz should permanently lose the right to vote as her fraud effectively disfranchised millions. And I don't give a bloody dann if Bernie forgives her. Its not his rights she trampled, but his voters' rights.

I don't have a problem with a state lawfully giving all felons the vote.

I praise states that make an easy procedure by which a felon may have rights restored, including but not limited to the right to vote.

What l mock here: the argument that voting is less alienable that right against penal imprisonment as we construe it. (Fenring's hypothetical society which exclusively uses imprisonment as a preventative measure rather than punitive would create a different set of facts but that's as far removed from us as at-will teleportation. Ben Franklin fixed punishment into the system.

Bernie is dead wrong on this issue but I would still vote for him. I like him for his honesty, not his intelligence.

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2019, 12:11:35 AM »
Follow on question: can registered (but not incarcerated) sex offenders vote?

That gets into the problems with the sex offender registry. And there ARE problems with it, but the political optics make it such that it isn't going to be touched in an appropriate way for a long time to come. After all, everybody hates sex offenders, and politics makes them want to be harsher, not more lenient on them.

Never mind there is a boatload of shades of grey, and the system is being used to abuse people who don't deserve it.

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2019, 12:15:57 AM »
Another question is: does the government have the authority to deprive someone of the right to vote? There are amendments to the US Constitution which specifically require that certain classes be allowed to vote (or that no one be denied the right to vote based on certain categories) but the right to vote is otherwise among those reserved by the Ninth amendment. That may mean people convicted of only federal crimes should be able to vote. Though until and unless the right to vote is incorporated against the States, it's probably up to the constitution of the individual states for non-federal convictions.

I don't know, but I do know that courts are legally capable of enslaving others.

13th Amendment:
Quote
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Fenring

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2019, 01:42:24 AM »
I heard someone on the internet suggest that if Bernie is right and convicted murderers in prison have the right to vote according to the Constitution then they also still have their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and must be granted access to loaded guns. I thought that amusing but wasn't going to bring it up except that obviously, or perhaps not so obviously to Bernie, if you are a convicted criminal serving time in prison some of your Constitutional rights get taken away, and rightfully so.

Like I said above, it depends on what your principles are based. If on natural law (for instance) you'd have to base it on what is morally permissible to do to anyone, regardless of how you feel about it. If based in some other moral realism then likewise you'd have to go based on the actual facts of what is right or wrong, not based on what would feel good to do. However if the moral system is an artificial construct then indeed it also becomes difficult to argue that felons "shouldn't" have the vote, but perhaps at best that "I don't want them to", which is both incontestable but also a-factual.

But if you're going on a moral system that goes something like "rights are inalienable and not privileges granted by others" then you can only define a removal of someone's rights as being a means to protect the rights of others. It's at worst zero sum, and at best having to curtain one right to protect many. If there is no right at jeopardy in such a system then therefore no justification for removing one, no matter how much one might want to do so. You have to shackle yourself deliberately if morality really is more than just a social agreement.

(Fenring's hypothetical society which exclusively uses imprisonment as a preventative measure rather than punitive would create a different set of facts but that's as far removed from us as at-will teleportation. Ben Franklin fixed punishment into the system.

I was not proposing a hypothetical society, but rather describing an accurate portrayal of consistently applying a certain belief system. If rights are paramount, and if punitive punishment doesn't in turn serve to actively protect some specific right, then such a system cannot morally support it. Pragmatically there could be many reasons to have it, such as satisfying the desire for vengeance and so forth, but practical=/=moral. I bring this up not to be pedantic, but rather to specify that when deciding whether or not felons "should" have the vote, the word "should" requires strict definition. Does it mean "satisfies my particular desire for retribution"? If so, there is no argument there, but merely an emotion which certainly has no pertinence to a discussion about rights. Does it mean "it would be nice to allow but we're not ready for it"? If so, it means that rights are being violated due to our own inability to live up to our values. Or might it mean "rights must be earned"? But I don't think a right-wing person would want to entertain that line either. So what is it, then?

I proposed natural law as a guide only because it's an example of answer, not because it's my answer. If protecting rights is paramount, and they proceed from nature itself rather than from our imaginations, then rights can only be curtailed to protect other rights, and therefore a punishment that does not specifically protect rights would be unjust. And so I ask again: what rights are violated by allowing felons - even murderous ones - from voting? Think carefully on the answer, because it surely cannot be argued that society being voted in a direction you don't like violates your rights. If so, then all Republicans are trying to violate the rights of Democrats, and vice versa. So it can't be that either! Do you see?

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2019, 02:10:03 AM »
I proposed natural law as a guide only because it's an example of answer, not because it's my answer. If protecting rights is paramount, and they proceed from nature itself rather than from our imaginations, then rights can only be curtailed to protect other rights, and therefore a punishment that does not specifically protect rights would be unjust. And so I ask again: what rights are violated by allowing felons - even murderous ones - from voting? Think carefully on the answer, because it surely cannot be argued that society being voted in a direction you don't like violates your rights. If so, then all Republicans are trying to violate the rights of Democrats, and vice versa. So it can't be that either! Do you see?

My problem with the "natural rights" take in regards to voting that you pursue, is the land-mine that is the matter that I don't think voting actually is a "natural right." The closest thing that exists in nature is freedom of association, and that often means your "vote" as it were, may be that you need to leave. Just don't also expect you have a "natural right" to be accepted wherever you travel to.

Fenring

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2019, 02:18:44 AM »
I proposed natural law as a guide only because it's an example of answer, not because it's my answer. If protecting rights is paramount, and they proceed from nature itself rather than from our imaginations, then rights can only be curtailed to protect other rights, and therefore a punishment that does not specifically protect rights would be unjust. And so I ask again: what rights are violated by allowing felons - even murderous ones - from voting? Think carefully on the answer, because it surely cannot be argued that society being voted in a direction you don't like violates your rights. If so, then all Republicans are trying to violate the rights of Democrats, and vice versa. So it can't be that either! Do you see?

My problem with the "natural rights" take in regards to voting that you pursue, is the land-mine that is the matter that I don't think voting actually is a "natural right." The closest thing that exists in nature is freedom of association, and that often means your "vote" as it were, may be that you need to leave. Just don't also expect you have a "natural right" to be accepted wherever you travel to.

Sure, you could take the tack that voting is not a natural right, and so your position would presumably be that democracy is not a naturally correct system (to put it one way) but just some way of doing things that may work ok but isn't based in anything fundamental. We give people a vote because it works good, but not because they have a fundamental right to have a say. That's a coherent position, but my initial point above was that it is not in any way obvious that this position is factually demonstrable. And if this position happened to be factually in error (a possibility, to be sure) then one certainly cannot make the positive assertion that Bernie's argument *is definitely wrong*. I am showing that in order to call his position wrong you actually have to address and define some very specific details about morality and nature. You essentially do have to claim that either voting is not a right, *or* that it is one but that allowing it for felons violates someone else's rights. Both of these are non-trivial assertions, and so ridiculing his position seems to me out of order.

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #38 on: May 03, 2019, 02:48:17 AM »
My problem with the "natural rights" take in regards to voting that you pursue, is the land-mine that is the matter that I don't think voting actually is a "natural right."

This should probably get an augmentation: Whether or not it actually can "rightfully" be considered a "natural right" it is a good way to measure the nature of the society in question when it comes to who has a say in the selection of the government. Generally speaking, the ones that and are able to allow the populace in general to participate, and remain viable, should have a reasonably advanced social structure.

My problem with the "natural rights" take in regards to voting that you pursue, is the land-mine that is the matter that I don't think voting actually is a "natural right." The closest thing that exists in nature is freedom of association, and that often means your "vote" as it were, may be that you need to leave. Just don't also expect you have a "natural right" to be accepted wherever you travel to.

Sure, you could take the tack that voting is not a natural right, and so your position would presumably be that democracy is not a naturally correct system (to put it one way) but just some way of doing things that may work ok but isn't based in anything fundamental. We give people a vote because it works good, but not because they have a fundamental right to have a say. That's a coherent position, but my initial point above was that it is not in any way obvious that this position is factually demonstrable. And if this position happened to be factually in error (a possibility, to be sure) then one certainly cannot make the positive assertion that Bernie's argument *is definitely wrong*. I am showing that in order to call his position wrong you actually have to address and define some very specific details about morality and nature. You essentially do have to claim that either voting is not a right, *or* that it is one but that allowing it for felons violates someone else's rights. Both of these are non-trivial assertions, and so ridiculing his position seems to me out of order.

Going back to the people who drafted the Declaration of Independence, as well as the Constitution of the United States. I'm inclined to think their views on Democracy were both varied and highly nuanced, as many of them considered Democracy to be a dirty word, and little better than rule by an unruly mob.

But as it was expressed in the 20th Century, by Winston Churchill:
https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/democracy-least-bad-form-government
Quote
"No-one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise," Winston Churchill observed in 1947. "Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

What a difference 60+ years makes. "No one pretends democracy is perfect or all wise" oh my, Churchill would be having a field day with the anti-Trump response to the 2016 Presidential Race. Where the argument was all about how Democracy IS superior simply by virtue of it being Democratic, because Democracy is great Mmmkay? So get rid of that nasty piece of work that is the Electoral College. (And the Senate while we're at it. It's "undemocratic" that Wyoming has two Senators exactly like California does, even though there are cities in California more populous than the entire state of Wyoming)

And you'd also be correct that Democracy itself is not "a natural system" in any meaningful way.

Nature is quite the tyrant, and without mercy. So obviously there are points where "Natural Law" can get a bit weird if taken to the logical extreme.

The sheer fact that Democracy is very much the exception, rather than the rule, and that they tend to be comparatively short lived also tends to bear evidence to these things. Democracy "isn't natural" so yeah, that's an awkward point to proceed from.

But going back to the opening of this post about the whole thing of voting not being a natural right, but that by seeing who has the voting franchise itself you can tell a lot about the society as a whole. In particular, it clearly demonstrates what the society in question values.

Which can take us back to the question about what does society have to gain from allowing the Timothy McVeighs, Charles Mansons, and Jeffery Dahmers of the world to continue to vote after they've demonstrated their horrible people? Do we, as a society, value their input on how our society should conduct itself? Because allowing them the right to vote says we do.

Also remember, I've already said that I do think there a lot of people who are felons out there that likely shouldn't even have that moniker tied to them.

Likewise, there probably are people who do deserve that association, but didn't do anything bad enough to justify being cut out of being able to provide their input on things through the mechanism of voting. So sure, many Felons should likely be allowed to vote. I'm going to stop short of saying all Felons should be allowed to vote. Because I don't value anything a serial killer might contribute to a political process.

Now the felon who spent time for the armed robbery of 5 convenience stores? It's possible that guy might be able to provide some genuine insight into things that need to be addressed. Or he might still be "just a thug" but that's going to be a very subjective thing. In any case, whether they can vote or not? They still have their right to free speech, they have their freedom to associate(at least, once out of prison), so they have a chance to educate other voters on the issues that are relevant, so even if they cannot vote directly, they're at least able to legally influence things by other means.

yossarian22c

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2019, 09:45:43 AM »
Personally, I don't have a problem with people being unable to vote from prison. I do have an issue with voting rights not automatically being restored upon release.

But Pete really hit on the bigger issue when he mentioned that a large percentage of felonies should be changed to misdemeanors. We have the largest prison population in the world, its expensive in dollars and to human lives.

NobleHunter

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2019, 10:06:03 AM »
I think wasserman-Schultz should permanently lose the right to vote as her fraud effectively disfranchised millions. And I don't give a bloody dann if Bernie forgives her. Its not his rights she trampled, but his voters' rights.

I don't have a problem with a state lawfully giving all felons the vote.

I praise states that make an easy procedure by which a felon may have rights restored, including but not limited to the right to vote.

What l mock here: the argument that voting is less alienable that right against penal imprisonment as we construe it. (Fenring's hypothetical society which exclusively uses imprisonment as a preventative measure rather than punitive would create a different set of facts but that's as far removed from us as at-will teleportation. Ben Franklin fixed punishment into the system.

Bernie is dead wrong on this issue but I would still vote for him. I like him for his honesty, not his intelligence.

Voting is less alienable than liberty because the Constitution provides a means by which the government may deprive a person of their liberty but it does not for voting.

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #41 on: May 03, 2019, 11:17:53 AM »
NH, you are pouring very new whine into a very old bottle, and your argument bursts at the seams. a Positive Law argument for natural inalienability. Shudder. That's like saying "people should think for themselves because the Fuhrer said so."


Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2019, 01:33:52 PM »
Hang on, it's me that's being stupid. NH was saying that the Constitution contemplates voting as less alienable.  And that's wrong (see 9th and 15th) but not ludicrous as I made out.

TheDeamon

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #43 on: May 03, 2019, 01:41:35 PM »
Hang on, it's me that's being stupid. NH was saying that the Constitution contemplates voting as less alienable.  And that's wrong (see 9th and 15th) but not ludicrous as I made out.

I'm going to split on this a little bit. There is the constitution as drafted by the men who wrote the thing, (up to and including the Bill of Rights) and then there are amendments that have been made by the following generations which may or may not be in keeping with what the initial writers had in mind.

The voting franchise, as practiced circa 1800, does not appear to be "an inalienable right" in the view of the founding era. In many states, simply being white, male, and living on your own may not be sufficient to ensure you had a right to vote(and women were voting back then, but only if they were acting as "head of household" in the absence of a male), as being a land owner was the deciding requirement.

In some respects today we say "1 person, 1 vote." Back then, the practice was more in line with "1 household(&home owner), 1 vote" and a male, as head of house, typically did that. So basically government was simply an extension of your HOA.  :o

JoshuaD

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #44 on: May 03, 2019, 02:10:48 PM »
Personally, I don't have a problem with people being unable to vote from prison. I do have an issue with voting rights not automatically being restored upon release.

I would support this change, definitely. It is a good compromise position that avoids a lot of the more difficult to work out questions and I think would be an improvement to our system.

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #45 on: May 03, 2019, 02:25:01 PM »
1 person 1 vote caused mass murder and forced migration several times in US history. Bloody Kansas, Mormons in Missouri. Then there is Kosovo and Rwanda for starters. Look at modern groups like KnowThyNeighbor that rely on fingering dissenters to mob justice.  The KKK played that role too before Jim Crow was established.

If democracy works in promoting good government by representation, great. If it doesn't, lets not make a fundamental right out of an afterthought and a fad.

Fenring

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #46 on: May 03, 2019, 02:36:17 PM »
If democracy works in promoting good government by representation, great. If it doesn't, lets not make a fundamental right out of an afterthought and a fad.

There's a difference between a thing being a fundamental right (hypothetically) versus implementation. A natural right to participate and have a say in government doesn't necessarily have to mean 1 vote 1 person, or even a representative democracy such as we know now. But *if* there is such a natural right, whatever system we use to try to best implement protecting that right is the best proxy we have of the right itself. So while 1 person 1 vote may not be the same thing as "all people have a right to participate in politics", if 1 person 1 vote is how we translate that right into reality then protecting that right means protecting 1 person 1 vote. You can curtail the systemic implementation if and only if you're replacing it with another implementation of that right (such as 1 vote per household, or anything else). That's why it's very murky to discuss who should or shouldn't have something that may in fact be a fundamental right. If voting (i.e. having a say in governance in any form) IS NOT a fundamental right we sort of have a funny situation where we'd then have to say that people can vote because the group sees fit to let them do so, and for no other reason; which then leads necessarily to "if the group in power doesn't see fit to let certain person(s) vote then that's totally legit."

Pete at Home

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Re: Allow all incarcerated felons to vote in U.S. elections
« Reply #47 on: May 03, 2019, 04:01:54 PM »
If a group is being taken in as refugees, I think it's reasonable for a community to say, "we will shelter you and feed you and give you work but this is our home and community and we don't want your voices to drown out ours. We don't like your politics and ideology and we will give you no authority in determining our government unless you are committed to our vision of liberty order and rights."

It's democratic assumptions that cause so many Europeans and Americans to recoil from taking refugees in.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2019, 04:09:44 PM by Pete at Home »