top of page

Prisoner Voting Rights

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

Voting regulations for inmates: Episode Preview and Article.

Written by: Alvina Anwar & Sheng Chang Li - Writers for the Topilitical article chain.

Welcome, Topilitical viewers! We sincerely hope that you enjoyed our first article and the episode released on the same topic. This will now be a part of our blog, which will be posted every week. Thank you for your continued support!

For several decades, the voting system, as well as its regulations, have been legislatively untouched. In most Northern American countries, such as the U.S and Canada, most residents at the age of 18 or over can vote, excluding the Chief Electoral Officer, the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, and candidates involved in the election. However, many other people aren’t able to decide who’s allowed to run their country and lead their people.

One of the groups of people who are allowed to vote in some places, but not others, is prisoners currently indicted and facing charges. It’s quite a controversial topic and for understandable reasons. In Maine and Vermont, prison inmates, probationers, and parolees can vote. However, in pretty much every other state, this isn’t the case. “Why” you might ask?

The voting system has already been established and accepted by many. To let inmates decide who they want to lead the country? It seems inappropriate to many people considering they’ve committed disservices and crimes against society. Should those who have harmed society in an ill-mannered way be allowed to affect the policies and beliefs of our government? That’s where the debate lies. Even though they’ve harmed society, do they get a chance to improve it? From this perspective, they see prisoners being able to vote as a spit in the face to law and order and a plain insult to the victims of crimes within our society.

Many people believe that even the worst people should be allowed to vote, as long as they are of an able mind. Essentially, a lot of people believe that restricting voting in any way is harmful to democracy and can lead to more severe and detrimental versions of voter suppression in later dates.

One interesting idea is that allowing these convicts to participate in important events like elections can help to build respect and obedience to municipal, provincial and federal figures, leading to lower chances of crime for these convicts after release; this may work to better rehabilitate criminals and mould a greater long term society. From this point of view, the idea of restricting voting for convicts seems like blatant voter suppression and can lead to a degradation of our democracy.

Of course, many also believe that the idea that prisoners should be able to vote is preposterous. To many, the belief that people who often do conscious harm to the system can vote in good consciousness for society is illogical and impossible. They believe that through harming society, you lose your rights and freedoms within society and have to face punishment for such actions.

What the debate boils down to is the topic of rehabilitation vs punishment. Should these prisoners be punished or should they be rehabilitated? Can the worst of our society be reformed or are they doomed? How should we approach the containment of these convicts and how should we handle their rights and freedoms? With many on both sides, this topic is important and highlights the different ways our democracies can shift, either for better or for worse.

That’s what our team will be debating this Sunday, 04/04/21. On the affirmative side of convict voting, we have Omar Gaballa. On the other hand, we have our executive producer, David Barbu, debating the negative side. Stay tuned for this eagerly awaited episode and remember: Stay on top. Stay Topilitical.

bottom of page