Voting is a right, not a privilege; it is a privilege that can be suspended, or even revoked in the event that a person is convicted of a felony.
There have been some questions about that policy, though. Does this policy violate an ex-con’s rights? Some say yes, this does violate their rights and should be changed – granting ex-con’s the right to vote, no matter what state they reside in. Among the most major cases was in the Farrakhan V. Gregoire case.
This case took into account Washington State’s felon disenfranchisement law. The argument was that in denying ex-convicted felons the right to vote resulted in a race-based denial of the vote.
Even though some of the claims in the trial were found to be correct, judges did not find that the plaintiffs had established a violation of the Voting Rights Act, because the violation was in the justice system and not the disenfranchisement statute, according to according to a recent article written by Deborah Periman, published in the Alaska Justice Forum.
The Alaska Constitution states that, “No person may vote who has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude unless his civil rights have been restored.” This made over 10,000 Alaskans unable to vote in 2009, according to Periman’s article.
The determination of whether a convicted felon’s right to vote should be discontinued indefinitely should be determined by the crime that they committed. Most people tend to look on non-violent crimes, whether they are a felony or not, to be less detrimental to society. That is an argument that can go either way, but most people seem to agree that those who commit and are convicted of violent crimes are far more detrimental to society.
If people commit a non-violent crime and serve their time in prison, or on parole or probation, then they should have the opportunity to have their voting rights reinstated. The prison system should be one of rehabilitation and if the prisoners are successfully rehabilitated, then they should regain their rights.
If someone commits a violent crime, however, then their rights should not be reinstated, even after they serve their time in prison. Some of the crimes that are committed are so heinous in nature that it is unlikely that they could possibly be rehabilitated and put back into society. Even if they are put back into the general population, their right to vote should be no more.
If a ex-con can prove that they are going to be a productive member of society, their voting rights should be restored. Otherwise, the voting population of Alaska, and America for that matter, is being unnecessarily lowered.