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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If you live in a country that does not have a transparent electoral system then you would probably look to countries that do and think that it is a privilege to have the right to vote. Usually that privilege has not been won easily. Someone has fought and died in order that we have such rights.

Would it be an idea to give prisoners the right to vote if they are due for release within the term of the new government? That way it would be seen as an earned privilege and remove any alienation that might otherwise be created without the right to vote.  If you are a lifer then maybe not as you have forgone the same rights as everyone else in that society.

One thing that bugs me – people who complain about politicians but it turnst out they never bothered to vote! So if we live in societies that allow us to vote we should do so.

I think some people find little to choose between the Democrat and Republican rivals and thus don't vote, though they could vote for a minority candidate. Futile, of course, but it makes a statement.

Not much of one, when you consider the media ignores Third Party candidates outright (How often has Ron Paul been mentioned since the election season came into its full swing?). They might run the numbers the first week (two or three days to be realistic), but after that? Nothing.

It's all a crock of shit anyway. Your vote means, nothing; not because you don't have a say in which of the two wins, but rather because they're identical in everything but the face they wear in public.

Ron Paul will be recognized when he becomes competitive. The plain fact is that, rightly or wrongly, he doesn't appeal to most people and thus doesn't stand a chance. His ideas don't appeal to most people and his holier than thou personality doesn't help much. Speaking for myself, whenever I hear him talk it reminds me of my high school principal complaining about kids not putting their lunch trays away. 

As for the Dems and GOP being the same below the surface, then why has it been so hard for Obama to get anything done? If they were alike, they'd be spewing out legislation like crazy. They're not.

It's more profitable to game the system while everyone's focusing on Red V. Blue. It's more profitable to see that nothing major gets done, and keep feeding the public on the idea that its the fault of "The Other Party".

I think it would be entertaining to rig a blind voting system for an election. Debates and platforms will be anonymous, and text only (or available as audio from a paid, non-partisan reader). Voters cast their votes on the platform they like best without know for which candidate or party they are voting.

Obviously never going to happen.

Taking the name off the ballot would help a lot. Anyone studying elections in the United States soon discovers the irrational advantage of having a surname that's Irish/Scottish, Italian, or Anglo-Saxon.

I have mixed feelings on democracy in general, but since the framework of this thread rests inside of a democratic system, I'll try my best to respect that.

Voting as a duty? I'm not opposed to it in principle; however, I feel one of the major issues with the democracy I live in is that voters are far too apathetic about getting informed. Throw in the people who, absent legal obligation or strong social pressure, would not vote at all, and I feel like that's just exacerbating the issue. I think every person who wants to remain ignorant of political affairs does us more of a favour in not voting.

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Right vs. privilege? I would call it a right over a privilege. In my view, my right to vote is something that someone needs to form an argument to deny. A privilege to vote is something someone needs to form an argument to grant. Ideally, people cast votes to form government, so from my perspective, government can seek to deny someone the right to vote on behalf of the people, but it can't grant people the privilege of voting as if it is doing the people a favour.

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In the make-believe world in my brain, I would like to see some obligations attached to voting. Everyone would have the right to apply and qualify to vote, but you would have to meet some basic obligations first. For example, you would have to participate in community forums with some consistency in order to qualify to vote. The forums would be as randomized as possible so that the local Catholic Church or Freethinkers group couldn't just get together and circle jerk ideas, or groups can't easily band together and lobby the forums.

But that idea just isn't practical. Too much money, too many complications regarding equal access, and there is room for corruption.

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With regard to prisoners, I don't care if they vote or not. I guess I just don't think it makes that much of a difference. I don't think they are there to repay a debt to society, nor should they be. How am I repaid by criminals living off my tax dollar? Forcing them to work isn't much better because prisons can unfairly undercut the businesses of upstanding citizens who would provide the same services. I see the incarceration as an effort to shove criminals out of public view for awhile so that the rest of us can sleep better at night.

More definitively, anyone who has been completely released from the penal system should have the same right to vote as anyone else. While there are some reasonable restrictions on ex-cons, if you don't let people reintegrate into society as normal citizens, you're making it more difficult for them to live as honest, upstanding people. If a human being is so dangerous that they can't even vote safely, leave them locked up. Failing that, if they've served their time then let it go at that.

Also, I think that youth between the ages of fourteen to eighteen should be granted a fractional vote in elections. Perhaps a quarter vote.

Which is very reminiscent of blacks once being counted as 1/4 of a person.  I'm actually a Youth Rights advocate.  There has been, for over a decade now, a push by the YR movement to lower the voting age to 16.  It's our biggest and strongest issue (and also the one most likely to come to pass in the near future).  You should look into the issue more if you're interested.  I won't spam a link here, but you can Google the "National Youth Rights Association" if you want.

Which is very reminiscent of blacks once being counted as 1/4 of a person.

Not really. I don't have an issue with the age of majority being lowered on a number of fronts though.

A fourteen year old isn't considered competent to drive a car. Vote? Even fractionally? No. At least grownups understand rudimentary economics of running a home, paying rent and utilities. I know when I was a teen I was very "pie in the sky." Sorry, I don't see the upside.

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