Should Criminals Have the Right to Vote?

by Marion Lequient on February 15, 2014 - 5:46pm

When navigating on the NY Times’ website, I found an editorial about the measures the US government have taken to deny criminals the right to vote, even after they have paid their debt to society. I was drawn to this issue, because I find that preventing 7% of the population from voting is, in a certain way, anti-democratic. Furthermore, I believe in rehabilitation of criminals, and I think that keeping fundamental rights from them such as voting does not help them reintegrate society. Should criminals that have paid their debt to society have the right to vote?

Some argue that some crimes cannot be overlooked or forgotten. That we must think of the victims or the damages engendered by these acts. They could also say that voting is a privilege rather than a right. That we have to be worthy of the rest of our society to be given this right to vote.

I think that voting is a fundamental right. In a democratic society, everyone is supposed to have a voice. We shouldn’t have to prove our worthiness to obtain this right. Of course, I agree that a criminal that has just committed a crime must be punished and undergo certain consequences. But once this individual is released from his sentence, there are some fundamental rights that must be returned to him. There is no point to letting this individual aside, and we even have to encourage this person’s engagement in his community. Additionally, we cannot cry over the dead for too long. Maybe criminals have destroyed other people’s lives, but punishing them eternally will never change the victim’s fate. I find this kind of thinking counterproductive.

Do you believe in the rehabilitation of criminals? Do you think that a past crime is a good reason to deny the right to an individual to engage in their society’s political life? Are criminals part of our society or should we see them as a separate category of people?


Your introduction is great and it help to understand your point of view. Even thought I disagree on the right to vote for the criminals, I do believe in rehabilitation. I think when a criminals commit his crime, he choose himself to lose his right to vote. He does not agree with our law and decided to break the law to achieve what is right for him. When he commit his crime, he choose to not be part of our society. Do you think criminals should still be part of our society as an entire person?

There are so many people who are given the right to vote who dont even vote nowadays. What would it change if the vote of a criminal took place of that of someone who was too lazy to get off of their couch and go vote? Not much I'd say; one persons vote counts for so little anyway. I agree with what you said about the rehabilitation of criminals and getting one's rights returned to them once they prove themselves worthy .

It's hard to believe that people who have committed serious crimes are eligible to vote. Once you take away the rights of another citizen, you should automatically be forfeiting your own rights, especially the right to pick the party running the government. However, with that being said, I feel that some criminals should be allowed to vote depending on the severity of the crime. I would much rather see a petty thief or someone who downloaded a movie vote than a mass murderer or a rapist.

I do not believe criminals should have the right to vote, when they are committing a crime they are giving up their freedom. There are far more serious obstacles that these criminals need to face than the right to vote. If someone commits a serious crime and they are released I wouldn't want them voting for anything.

First of all, I find your post is very interesting and well written. You seem to hold an act utilitarian’s principle of utility, because you believe in the act that will bring the most happiness for those who are involved (the criminals and society). I recommend you go check the website to better understand the theory of act utilitarianism.