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.
When they come out, are they citizens again or are they less than citizens?
And for that matter what about the atrocious events of 1937-1941?
In a democracy, voting should be a mandate.
Suffrage should be a universal right in all states for all residents of the age of 18 or older and in the case of convicted felons, after having served their mandated sentences they should be permitted to be restored to civil rights and be allowed to vote.
A review of definitions:
Right 1) n. an entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process, or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal. These rights include various freedoms, protection against interference with enjoyment of life and property, civil rights enjoyed by citizens such as voting and access to the courts, natural rights accepted by civilized societies, human rights to protect people throughout the world from terror, torture, barbaric practices and deprivation of civil rights and profit from their labor, and such American constitutional guarantees as the right to freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. 2) adj. just, fair, correct. (See: civil rights, marital rights)
2) PRIVILEGE, rights. This word, taken its active sense, is a particular law, or a particular disposition of the law, which grants certain special prerogatives to some persons, contrary to common right. In its passive sense, it is the same prerogative granted by the same particular law.
2. Examples of privilege may be found in all systems of law; members of congress and of the several legislatures, during a certain time, parties and witnesses while attending court; and coming to and returning from the same; electors, while going to the election, remaining on the ground, or returning from the same, are all privileged from arrest, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace.
3. Privileges from arrest for civil cases are either general and absolute, or limited and qualified as to time or place.
4.-1. In the first class may be mentioned ambassadors, and their servants, when the debt or duty has been contracted by the latter since they entered into the service of such ambassador; insolvent debtors duly discharged under the insolvent laws; in some places, as in Pennsylvania, women for any debt by them contracted; and in general, executors and administrators, when sued in their representative character, though they have been held to bail. 2 Binn. 440.
5.-2. In the latter class may be placed, 1st. Members of congress this privilege is strictly personal, and is not only his own, or that of his constituent, but also that of the house of which he is a member, which every man is bound to know, and must take notice of. Jeff. Man. Sec. 3; 2 Wils. R. 151; Com. Dig. Parliament, D. 17. The time during which the privilege extends includes all the period of the session of congress, and a reasonable time for going to, and returning from the seat of government. Jeff. Man. Sec. 3; Story, Const. Sec. 856 to 862; 1 Kent, Com. 221; 1 Dall. R. 296. The same privilege is extended to the members of the different state legislatures.
6.-2d. Electors under the constitution and laws of the United States, or of any state, are protected from arrest for any civil cause, or for any crime except treason, felony, or a breach of the peace, eundo, morando, et redeundo, that is, going to, staying at, or returning from the election.
7.-3d. Militia men, while engaged in the performance of military duty, under the laws, and eundo, morando et redeundo.
8.-4th. All persons who, either necessarily or of right are attending any court or forum of justice, whether as judge, juror, party interested or witness, and eundo, morando et redeundo. See 6 Mass. R, 245; 4 Dall. R. 329, 487; 2 John. R. 294; 1 South. R. 366; 11 Mass. R. 11; 3 Cowen, R. 381; 1 Pet. C. C. R. 41.
9. Ambassadors are wholly exempt from arrest for civil or criminal cases.
Vide Ambassador. See, generally, Bac. Ab. h.t.; 2 Rolle's Ab. 272; 2 Lilly's Reg. 369; Brownl. 15; 13 Mass. R. 288; 1 Binn. R. 77; 1 H. Bl. 686; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.