Should felons be allowed to vote?

Voting in the beginning of the United States was only available to landowning white men. Voting rules changed around the 1820s when all white males were afforded the right to vote, regardless of economic status. Around 1870, black men were granted the right to vote. I say the “granted” loosely because of grandfather clauses and poll taxes, which actively targeted Black men in order to deny them their right to vote. 

 Currently, voters face similar issues, with minority groups and disables people being denied the right to vote through various circumstances: lack available polling places, lack of transportation, lack of paid time off work, and more. There is another group of American citizens who are currently denied the right to vote: felons. Felons are among those who actually can’t vote due to their crimes. By definition, felons are those who’ve committed murder, rape, kidnapping and arson, and other severe crimes. Felons’ crimes can be charged with a minimum of one year to life in prison. The level of crime is categorized by class, A being life imprisonment or death penalty to E, being less than five years, but more than one year. 

With respect to these groupings, I believe anyone from class C (25 years and less) and below should be able to exercise their right to vote. 

Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of white Americans, according to This disparity showcases that the population of prisons is dominated by people of color. Data shows that Black people do not commit crimes at higher rates than people of other ethnic or racial groups. We can infer that the disparity is a result of institutional racism. Not allowing any inmates to vote continues to silence and prevent historically marginalized people from contributing to democracy. Current laws surrounding felons’ rights continues this cycle of finding new ways for them to stay silent. 

I do not believe class B and A should vote, due to the severity of their actions affecting other individuals. At this point I feel as though the length of their sentences will prevent them from rejoining society in a timely manner.

Everyone after completing their sentence should be allowed to vote again. In that a previous crime shouldn’t hinder their integration back into democracy. Voting is a constitutional right and we should all have the choice to exercise that right or not.