Behind the Bars of the Ballot: Should Ex-Con’s Vote?

Behind the Bars of the Ballot: Should Ex-Con’s Vote?

Imagine this; a man is mockingly pointing at another man who is behind bars, laughing at him for a nonviolent crime he committed some time ago. How easy would it be for the free man to say to the crime doer, “You should have no voice in how this country runs itself”?


If you were part of the vast majority, you would probably say “very easy.” No convict should have electoral power, and that is not reasoning many would argue with. However, what if you were to learn the man behind bars has already served his time, paid his dues, and is once again an active member of society?


Let us be honest, to the least degree, it would beg a hefty question. Why is he still behind bars?


This is because the system in his society continues to punish him for a nonviolent crime he has already paid for. Does that seem fair? It would not be difficult to say yes when you are not in the ex-convict’s shoes.


Here is a thought-provoking concept: The free man is unknowingly trapped behind a jail cell of his own, his own government, some states in the United States of America—“the system in his society.” Think about it.


True, there is no arguing about some crimes (primarily violent crimes). If you commit a serious crime, you should not be allowed to vote. This topic is not about that, though. This is about someone who received justice from the law for a nonviolent crime. This is about having an appropriate clean slate and a fresh start. This is about admitting we all screw up—some on legal scales. This is about the right of a non-threatening individual to vote in America.


That ideology is not something you would likely expect from a conservative partisan, like Rand Paul. Although Paul is a Republican senator, he is aware that partisanship is not what matters in legal issues.


It is about what is right.


“It isn’t that we come halfway to each other and split the difference on things,” Paul said. “It’s that we can have people on the right and left that passionately believe in the same thing, and you can get something done simply by throwing away partisanship and saying, ‘What’s the right thing to do here?’ ”


Currently, Paul is fighting to change this law in Kentucky, which is one of several states that make it very difficult to retain voting rights after a small-scale offense.


“There can be an argument made for—once you’ve served your time, you’ve served your time,” Paul said. “But, I think as far as trying to get the coalition necessary to pass this, we’re looking at nonviolent felons.”


Do you support Sen. Paul’s goal to more easily restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons? Share your opinions, personal/loved one’s stories, and be heard in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.


(Photo Courtesy of Carsten Lorentzen via Flickr Creative Commons)



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