argument top image

Should felons be allowed to vote?
Back to question

Voting is a privilege

The Constitution frames voting as a privilege, not a right. By breaking the law, felons have proven that they do not deserve this privilege.

The Argument

People who oppose felony disenfranchisement speak of voting as a human right, but the Constitution does not guarantee voting rights to all citizens. Although amendments have made it unconstitutional to deny someone voting rights based on race or sex, a universal right to vote is not ratified in the Constitution. [1] The Constitution does not speak against felony disenfranchisement. Thus, felony voting restrictions are not a violation of human rights as they are described in the Constitution. If our founders had considered voting to be a human right, they would have guaranteed it to all citizens. For this reason, it is logical to conclude that America's founders considered voting a privilege, not a right. People must earn privileges. Because of this, it is rational to conclude that people must earn voting rights. Felons clearly haven't done this. On the contrary, they have acted in ways that prove they do not deserve this privilege. Our government has no qualms about depriving felons of other privileges like their freedom (by imprisoning them) so taking away voting privileges should not be an issue.

Counter arguments

While it is not formally ratified in the U.S. Constitution, the right to vote is continually referenced elsewhere. U.S. courts have stated that the right to vote "is preservative of other basic civil and political rights."[2] Disenfranchising felons of this right is fundamentally undemocratic.



[P1] Voting is not a right, it is a privilege. [P2] People must earn privileges. [P3] Felons have disqualified themselves from voting and proved that they do not deserve this privilege.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Citizens do have the inherent right to vote.


This page was last edited on Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 16:51 UTC

Explore related arguments