Last updated on: 4/25/2008 | Author:

Should Felons Lose Their Ability to Vote in Elections Because Society Can No Longer Trust Them?

PRO (yes)


The Washington Times stated in a Nov. 21, 2004 editorial titled “Another No Vote on Felons”:

“Even in nearby Massachusetts, no stranger to progressivism, voters in 2000 supported a constitutional amendment to bar inmates from voting. The reason is clear: Most people think perpetrators of serious crimes have violated the public trust and cannot be permitted to help determine the future of the communities they harmed.

[F]or the time being, the voters’ good sense about the possible scenarios – the advent of new constituencies of prisoners whom politicians court for votes, for instance – still prevails. As does the sense that most of the time, in most of the country, serious lawbreakers should not help elect the country’s lawmakers.”

Nov. 21, 2004 - Washington Times


Roger Clegg, JD, stated in a Nov. 1, 2004 debate held by the Legal Affairs Debate Club:

“We don’t let children vote, for instance, or noncitizens, or the mentally incompetent. Why? Because we don’t trust them and their judgment..

So the question is, do criminals belong in that category? And I think the answer is clearly yes. People who commit serious crimes have shown that they are not trustworthy.”

Nov. 1, 2004 - Roger Clegg, JD


Tucker Carlson, MSNBC television host, stated in a June 26, 2006 segment of his interview show The Situation with Tucker Carlson:

“Now why would we, as citizens, as non-felon citizens, want felons helping to pick our representatives. If you’re a convicted felon, convicted of a violent crime, you have bad judgment. Why do we want people with that judgment picking our representatives?”

June 26, 2006 - Tucker Carlson

CON (no)


Steve Chapman, a syndicated columnist and editorial writer, stated in his Aug. 15, 2006 StarTribune article “Too Many Ex-Convicts Aren’t Able to Vote”:

“We let ex-convicts marry, reproduce, buy beer, own property and drive. They don’t lose their freedom of religion, their right against self-incrimination or their right not to have soldiers quartered in their homes in time of war. But in many places, the assumption is that they can’t be trusted to help choose our leaders.

Many of them can be. The pleasures of long-term confinement serve to deter a lot of them from reverting to mischief. If we thought criminals could never be reformed, we wouldn’t let them out of prison in the first place…

This is one of those cases where we should do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. Depriving ex-convicts of the ballot is a mindless form of punishment that only discourages them from becoming upstanding members of the community. They’d be better off if we let them vote, and so would the rest of us.”

Aug. 15, 2006 - Steve Chapman


Marc Mauer, MSW, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, stated in a Nov. 1, 2004 debate through the Legal Affairs Debate Club:

“If I was in charge of setting voting qualifications, there are many categories of people whom I would exclude due to their ‘untrustworthiness.’ For a start, admitted racists or anti-Semites wouldn’t vote. Maybe I’d also exclude people who couldn’t demonstrate that they had devoted sufficient time to the upcoming elections. Or perhaps greedy people who lack a commitment to the overall well-being of the community.

But in a democracy we don’t (or at least shouldn’t) set up such barriers… No matter how reprehensible or ill-informed I find someone’s views, my remedy is obviously to get out and vote and to convince others to support my position.”

Nov. 1, 2004 - Marc Mauer, MSW