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Thread: Voting rights for prisoners

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Voting rights for prisoners

    Why is the US one of the only industrialized nations that doesn't give all of its citizens the right to vote?

    The prison population in this country is staggeringly high, and while the incarcerated are duly counted in the census for the purposes of drawing district lines, they are not consulted for their votes. Do you see the problem here?

    Recently, Bernie Sanders stated he is in favor of extending voting rights to prisoners, and so far all of the other candidates who have been asked about it disagree. Their rationale is that the worst offenders, like terrorists or serial killers, should not enjoy the same rights as everyone else due to their crimes against society. That seems like a fair point at first blush, but it obscures the larger problem with our justice system. Such offenders make up a small minority of those in prison, so one wonders what the danger would be in counting their votes. In actuality, it's not these extreme cases that political elites are afraid of, it's the loss of political containment that allowing voting from prison would mean for them.

    As it stands today, the same class of state-corporate interests has two highly relevant powers assigned to it: they can (1) define a category of citizens that is not allowed to participate in the political process and (2) decide who to put into that category. Imagine what the demographics of the prison population might look like if you had to guess, not knowing anything about the US except that the vast majority of its rulers in politics, technology, business, and finance are rich, connected white people. It should be obvious that the problem isn't giving Dylan Roof a vote, it's losing the ability to herd poor blacks and Hispanics into cages where they can't challenge the status quo. It's both politically expedient and highly profitable to keep doing that. Raising this issue early in the primaries is forcing the field of candidates to reveal where they land on a whole host of related issues, like prison reform, the drug war, and police brutality against blacks.

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    Why is the US one of the only industrialized nations that doesn't give all of its citizens the right to vote?
    Why is this in 'point out Trump's a manchild?'


    But, eh, why not? I mean, we let 4chan users and incels have the vote.

    But would they vote based on their home of record or the physical location of the prison? If they're voting by absentee ballot, it'd be harder to gerrymander their votes away.

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    Are you paying tax? Then you should be allowed to vote.

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patooka View Post
    Are you paying tax? Then you should be allowed to vote.
    How about: are you affected by the outcome of this election? Then you should be able to vote.

    Imagine if the residents of every US-occupied territory had the power to voice their preferences rather than passively enduring American hegemony. But that's a topic for another day... for now, I'm interested in hearing where posters come down on the issue of convicted criminals in US prisons.

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    In prison? No, you’ve been removed from the rest of society, and I’m fine with removing your voting rights too.

    I’m also fine with what Florida did to restore voting rights to ex-cons.

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    I think that Sanders had an excellent point when he said that when we start drawing lines and saying "this group shouldn't vote" and "that group shouldn't vote", then we're drawing lines which shouldn't be drawn and damaging society, regardless of who is in those groups.

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hurtinbuckaroo View Post
    In prison? No, you’ve been removed from the rest of society, and I’m fine with removing your voting rights too.
    When the apparatus that has the power to put you in prison is the same one that is only kept in power by people not voting for their opponents, what could be the benefit of tying voting rights to incarceration?

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    Not getting to vote in elections is part of the price you pay for getting incarcerated. I don't have a problem with it.

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSwizzle View Post
    Not getting to vote in elections is part of the price you pay for getting incarcerated. I don't have a problem with it.
    Not in most countries, and those countries tend to have far fewer people in prison, and there is definitely a link to be found between those two facts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TSwizzle View Post
    Not getting to vote in elections is part of the price you pay for getting incarcerated. I don't have a problem with it.
    Not in most countries, and those countries tend to have far fewer people in prison, and there is definitely a link to be found between those two facts.
    That's not going to change my mind as I don't live in most countries. I live in one country.

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