Recently, I was listening to CNN where they were discussing the states where convicted felons are not allowed to vote and whether that was right.

Is voting a right or a privilege? But there's a third word that used to be applied, though one seldom hears it anymore.

When I was a kid voting wasn't a right or a privilege. It was a duty of every citizen in the democracy to participate in the electoral process.

As to felons. They are in prison to work off their debt to society.

Or not?

When they come out, are they citizens again or are they less than citizens?


Your thoughts?

Tags: citizenship, voting

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The franchise being available to most is something which is a very modern innovation; it's less than a hundred years ago since less than half of populations had the privilege. Much like the privilege of a driver's license provide you the right to drive, the privilege of the franchise affords you the right to vote. To be considered an upstanding member of society you have the duty to cast the ballot to influence, albeit in a small way, how society is governed, much like you have a duty to pay taxes owed. You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

Prisoners not having the right to vote is undemocratic and downright disgraceful (apart from those condemned for high treason). They are as much products of society as non-prisoners and should therefore have their voices heard, furthermore it could be utilized as an expedient way for incumbents to dispose of political enemies on trumped up charges. As for labelling anyone as a less-than-citizen, it is something I find to be quite Hitleresque. Perhaps a "final solution" is in order..?

Prisoners not having the right to vote is undemocratic and downright disgraceful (apart from those condemned for high treason).

Well, and perhaps you might agree to adding those who have been convicted of being involved in egregious cases of election fraud.

I guess also those who have attempted to overthrow government, but I tend to doubt those are a large part of the prison population and their cases are a bit more relevant to that particular punishment. 

Assorted, not terribly well interconnected thoughts on this topic:

I figure if you aren't willing to trust someone with the vote after they are out of jail, then that's a tacit admission you don't think they are rehabilitated.  That's not necessarily an argument for giving them the vote anyway, though.

Unseen mentioned a permanent ban on voting by people convicted of election fraud; that has a certain appeal to it--if you are a known subverter of the system perhaps you shouldn't participate in it.

The "it's a duty" attitude is still implicit in a lot of people "If you don't vote you can't complain" (what if neither of the schmucks is worth voting for, and both are well worth voting against?  A situation increasingly common, at least from where I sit.)

But no matter what, voting is de facto a privilege not a right, it's a privilege that comes with citizenship.  If it were a right, non-citizens would be allowed to do it (non citizens are protected by the first amendment, and can draw entitlements, and that is oftentimes de facto true for illegals).  What it isn't, is a privilege of some sort of elite, as the overwhelming majority of citizens who are not minors can vote.

As for third party candidates, Gary Johnson on the libertarian ticket is tolerable.  Both Romney and Obama make me want to vomit, for differing reasons.  But I live in a battleground state and may have to make a tactical decision to vote for the least vomitous of the two.  If I could just figure out who that is.

I think it would really help make the American political system if voting was made
Mandatory, as it is in Australia among other countries. It would mean that instead of having to cater to the extreme views, right and left, I order to get people bothered to vote, everyone would have too, and they would need to take a middle path.

Voting is a privilege, but I don't agree with prisoners not being allowed to vote.

If there is the potential for one political party to gain over another by having stricter laws, you add an incentive to a political party outside providing "law and order" to extending or reducing time spent in prison for crimes.

In my ideal political system however all votes are not equal. I would prefer a system in which while casting your vote you have to answer a small list of questions, these questions concern the major economic, scientific and political issues at the time, the questions are purely on awareness (not on how to deal with the problem, that is what the vote is for).

Each vote should then be given a value according to the awareness displayed in the questions answered. Currently democracy is too much a popularity contest.

Sure this system isn't perfect either, but it would be a step closer in my opinion.

You remind me of Robert A Heinlein's suggestion that you have to solve a quadratic equation before being allowed to vote.  And he said, at first, that he'd restrict it to integer roots.  He figured if you have no grasp of math you were ipso facto mentally incompetent and shouldn't be making adult decisions.

It has the advantage of being a test you can objectively grade; I would shudder at the thought of having to demonstrate knowledge of a political issue to someone who might not be able to keep their opinions out of it.  (Would you, for example, reject a global warming denier?  If so, why wouldn't you have rejected someone who believed Wegener before 1950?  The scientific establishment was just as sure the continents did not move back then, as they are sure of climate change today.)  I know many people would reject libertarians and insist that they are doing so on factual grounds, and the reverse is likely true too.

I am not sure I'd go as Heinlein.  But I shudder at the thought that money in the amount of trillions of dollars is ultimately in the charge of a bunch of people (our congress) who would no doubt fail the quadratic test.

Sadly, as I prepair to vote, I run back into the problem of 'hours in the day'. Numerous times I have really needed to research a proposal, but realized that a decision should, ideally, be based upon 'knowledge', not 'suspicion' or 'ignorance'. Getting to the place of understanding seems to be a deeply time-invested dependent problem. With everything else I do, my political  'duty' seems the hardest to fulfill.

About 10 years ago, I downloaded a copy of the USA Patriot Act and had set out to 'read' the thing. About 20 pages into it, I realized that there are references to previous laws and rulings, that I had no knowledge of, and would take days to research. To understand ment, plumbing the rabbit hole! Atleast a few things seemed obvious, which, at the time were disconcerting.

I still try to research before I vote, but fear that I am out of my depth alot of the time..;p(  

No, the questions have to be worded in more a multi choice setting in my opinion, and not ask for opinions but facts. Taking the example of global warming:

What is the scientific consensus of climate scientists about global warming?

a) They all think it is man made

b) 99% think it is man made

c) 50/50

d) None believe it, it's a hoax dreamed up by hippies

e) no one has investigated the scientific consensus

This type of thing, there is only one correct answer.

Another could be "have temperature risen a statistically significant amount in the last 50 years if we take a 10 year moving average?"

Perhaps add a quadratic equation in there just for giggles.

A right, a privilege, and a responsibility.  I've voted in EVERY election since Dwight Eisenhower.  This year, I will vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party, because she believes everything I do.

Given the atrocious events of 1945, I suspect that the Japanese people might have a different answer to this question than Americans.  Think about it.

Not sure what you mean. Do you mean that had Japan been a democracy and thus the common people had had the right to vote, their aggression pre- and in WWII might not have happened?

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