Last updated on: 1/22/2024 | Author: ProCon.org

Should Felons Regain the Right to Vote?

While felony crimes differ from U.S. state to state, these serious, often violent crimes include arson, assault, battery, burglary, child endangerment, domestic assault, drug dealing, fraud, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, rape, robbery, and stalking. In the United States, as Encyclopaedia Britannica explains, a felony is typically “punishable by a term of imprisonment of one year or more.” Further, for a felony conviction, “the offender may lose some civil rights. These vary from state to state, but they usually include the right to own or possess firearms, the right to vote, and the right to hold public office.” For more on felon voting, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)

Pro

Joe Biden:

“Let’s call this what it is: A modern-day poll tax. It’s unconscionable. We need to restore voting rights for individuals formerly incarcerated for felonies — and ensure everyone can make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

Editors’ Note: Biden is referring to Florida’s rule that felons may not vote if they still owe court fines and fees. He links to this CNN article.

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Joe Biden, twitter.com, July 16, 2020

CON (no)

Con

Donald Trump:

“Hillary Clinton [then the 2016 presidential nominee] is banking on her friend [then governor of Virginia] Terry McAuliffe on getting thousands of violent felons to the voting booths in effort to cancel out the votes of both law enforcement and crime victims. They are letting people vote in your Virginia election that should not be allowed to vote. Sad. So Sad.”

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Ashley Killough and Karl de Vries, “Trump Slams Voting Rights for Felons, Wants GOP to Court Black Voters,” cnn.com, Aug. 22, 2026

Not Clear or Not Found

Nikki Haley:

No position as of Dec. 14, 2023

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:

“And, when I was at [environmental organization] Riverkeeper, I made a point of hiring people who were felons, who were convicted, who had served their time in prison. And that divided the organization. I believe in redemption. I don’t think we can dismiss human beings, no matter what they did earlier on in their lives. Everybody gets another chance. And what Jesus said is, Not only do you give them seven chances, but you give them seven times seven chances.”

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David Remnick, “The Alternative Facts of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,” newyorker.com, July 7, 2023