Many states have enacted laws prohibiting the voting rights of felons or those previously convicted of felonies. Voting laws vary among the states, many of which have lessened restrictions on voting privileges for ex-felons so they can participate in the democratic process.
Here are six reasons supporters give for restoring voting rights to ex-felons:
Disenfranchisement for ex-felons has helped create a racial divide within voting privileges. More than 2 million African Americans, or close to 8 percent of black adults, aren't able to vote because of felony convictions compared to just under 2 percent of non-African Americans, according to the Sentencing Project.
VOTE NOW: Should Convicted Felons Be Allowed to Vote?
The diverse and changing laws on voting rights for ex-felons in various states have created confusion. The process involved to restore voting privileges can be cumbersome, making it difficult for some ex-felons to know if they can vote or to find out how. Some states have adopted procedures for correction facilities to aid ex-prisoners in their right to vote, but in Florida, for example, a procedure to automatically restore voting rights for non-violent offenders was later rescinded.
The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits excessive sanctions and calls for punishment that fits an offense, according to proponents of restoring voting rights to ex-felons. Permanently excluding all felons from voting would go against this amendment.
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Allowing ex-felons to vote would help in their reintroduction into society. They learn the value of the law to strengthen their participation in common practices. Even prisoners would learn to respect the law and contribute to the "common good" with voting rights, according to sociologists Jeff Manza of Northwestern University and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota.
Ex-felons deserve a second chance. They have paid their debt to society and once they leave prison, they need to readjust to a new life. Voting rights play a major role in restoring the rights process.
Ex-felons are denied one of the basic fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens of the U.S. if they are not allowed to vote. Going through rehabilitation and reintegration, ex-felons become part of a law-abiding society with the same privileges as others in the society, proponents for voting rights argue.
VOTE NOW: Do You Think Convicted Felons Should Be Allowed to Vote?
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