Felon Voting
Pros and Cons
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Should felons who have completed their sentence (incarceration, probation, and parole) be allowed to vote?
Should felons who have completed their sentence (incarceration, probation, and parole) be allowed to vote?
An estimated 5.85 million people (as of 2010) with a felony conviction are barred from voting in elections - a condition known as disenfranchisement. Each state has its own laws on disenfranchisement. While Vermont and Maine allow felons to vote while in prison, nine other states permanently restrict certain felons from voting.

Proponents of felon re-enfranchisement say that felons who have paid their debt to society by completing their sentences should have all of their rights and privileges restored. They argue that efforts to block ex-felons from voting are unfair, undemocratic, and politically or racially motivated.

Opponents say felon voting restrictions are consistent with other voting limitations such as age, residency, sanity, etc., and other felon restrictions such as no guns for violent offenders and no sex offenders near schools. They say that convicted felons have demonstrated poor judgment and should not be trusted with a vote.

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Felon Voting ProCon.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents research, studies, and pro and con statements on questions related to whether or not felons should be allowed to vote.

Individuals and organizations that believe felons should not be re-enfranchised until they have paid all fines and restitution (in addition to having completed their term of incarceration and probation/parole) will be classified as Not Clearly Pro or Con.

Individuals and organizations that support re-enfranchisement of some categories of felons (after incarceration and probation/parole) and the disenfranchisement of other categories of felons (after incarceration and probation/parole) will also be classified as Not Clearly Pro or Con.

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Felon, Felony, & Disenfranchisement Defined
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Notices for Felon Voting and Other ProCon.org Information (archived after 30 days)

2/6/2015 Educators in 5,758 schools have used ProCon.org. Our free resources have been used by teachers, librarians, and administrators in all 50 US states and 73 countries. The breakdown is 1,529 elementary and middle schools (26.6%), 2,911 high schools (50.5%), and 1,318 colleges and universities (22.9%). A big thank you to educators around the world for helping us spread the word about critical thinking!

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1/28/2015 - Jail, Prison, Parole, and Probation Populations in the US, 1980-2013 - The total correctional population in the US grew from 1,840,400 in 1980 to 6,899,000 in 2013.  In 1980 there were 319,598 people in prison, and by 2013 that population had expanded to 1,574,700 inmates. See the trends in various US correctional populations over the last 30 years in our new chart and graph.

1/28/2015 - Incarcerated Felon Population by Type of Crime Committed, 1974-2012 - US state and federal prisons housed a total of 1,511,497 inmates as of 2012. In state prisons, 53.8% of the prisoners were convicted of violent crimes, while in federal prisons 56.0% were convicted of drug-related offenses.  Our updated chart shows statistics for all categories of crime.

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