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< Back to question Should felons be allowed to vote? Show more Show less

According to the Sentencing Project, an estimated 6.1 million Americans have lost their voting rights because of felony disenfranchisement laws as of 2016. Lawmakers are divided about its implications: what constitutes human rights and what justifies taking them away, especially given a justice system that disproportionately imprisons minorities and the poor?

We should leave this decision up to each state Show more Show less

The Constitution leaves decisions about elections and voting regulations up to the states, so trying to reach a universal consensus on this issue is pointless.
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States should make decisions about felony disenfranchisement independently

We should not try to arrive at a universal decision regarding voting laws or felony disenfranchisement because the Constitution originally left this decision up to the states.
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Proponents


The Argument

The United States' founders intended for state governments to run federal elections. They clearly established this in Article 1 of the Constitution [1] and in the 10th Amendment. [2] Thus, creating federal laws about felony disenfranchisement is a violation of the Constitution. The federal government has no right to intervene because this is a states' rights issue. Instead of trying to create universal legislation against this practice, activists should focus on appealing to their local governments. Naturally, each state will arrive at a slightly different approach to felony disenfranchisement. States already have different felony voting laws, with some completely disenfranchising felons and others, like Maine and Vermont, not disenfranchising them at all. [3]

Counter arguments

In past times, states refused to outlaw horrific practices. For example, a number of states refused to outlaw slavery before the federal government intervened. We cannot use states' rights as an excuse not to appeal to the federal government for change, especially if this is the most effective way of reforming disenfranchisement laws.

Premises

[P1] The Constitution says that states should determine who vote.

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.usa.gov/voting-laws
  2. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendment/amendment-x#:~:text=The%20powers%20not%20delegated%20to,respectively%2C%20or%20to%20the%20people.
  3. https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/6-million-lost-voters-state-level-estimates-felony-disenfranchisement-2016/

This page was last edited on Friday, 24 Jul 2020 at 01:31 UTC