Should all citizens be guaranteed the right to vote regardless of a criminal conviction?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

The Inclusive Democracy Act aims to address felony disenfranchisement by guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens regardless of conviction of a criminal offense. This bill would ensure that when an individual is convicted of a criminal offense, they will be notified that their right to vote is not affected, and may register or remain registered to vote. This bill requires carceral settings (prison, jail, etc.) to provide individuals with the mail voter registration application form and application to vote via absentee ballot. Additionally, if the carceral setting provides access to electronic devices with internet access, individuals eligible to vote should be provided with internet access for free to research candidates and information relevant to an election. Sponsor: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Democrat, Massachusetts, District 7)
View full bill text ➔

How do you feel?

One click sends your opinion

Opponents say

•      "Most states restore the right to vote once the felon is out of prison and has completed any required parole or probation, although some states also have a waiting period beyond that because of high recidivism rates. This makes sense. The right to vote should not be restored until felons have been released and shown that they really have learned their lesson, turned over a new leaf, and are now willing to abide by the rules under which we all live. Letting them vote from prison, cancelling out the votes of their victims, is an unfair and imprudent proposal." Source: The Heritage Foundation

•      "If you won’t follow the law yourself, then you can’t make the law for everyone else, which is what you do – directly or indirectly – when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison. The unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in. The arguments in favor of automatic felon voting are unpersuasive. The fact that a disproportionate number of felons at some point in time belong to a particular racial group does not make disenfranchisement racist, just as most felons being male and young does not make these laws sexist or ageist. And while a disproportionate number of felons are black, their victims likewise are disproportionately black, so minimizing the consequences of crime and empowering criminals also has a disparate impact on their law-abiding African-American neighbors."  Source: Robert Clegg, President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity

Proponents say

•    "Too often, citizens behind the wall and those with a record are wrongfully stripped of their sacred right to vote and denied the opportunity to participate in our democracy. With Republicans and the Supreme Court stopping at nothing to undermine voting rights and exclude Black and brown folks from participating in our democracy, we must protect and expand access to the ballot box – including for incarcerated citizens. As someone whose family has been personally impacted by mass incarceration, I’m proud to partner with Senator Welch on the Inclusive Democracy Act to ensure everyone can make their voice heard in our democracy. Momentum is growing in states across the country and Congress must follow suit by swiftly passing this crucial legislation." Source: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Democrat, Massachusetts, District 7)

•    "Our democracy is at its strongest when everyone can take part in it. Yet millions of Americans are denied their right to engage in our democratic process as a result of antiquated state felony disenfranchisement laws that disproportionately impact Black Americans and women. These Jim Crow-era laws have no place in modern America." Source: Sen. Peter Welch (Democrat, Virginia) 

•    "Felony disenfranchisement is a stain on American democracy. With over 4.6 million Americans barred from exercising their right to vote, disproportionately Black and Brown Americans, we are falling dramatically short of the promises on which this nation was built. We applaud Representative Pressley for introducing the Inclusive Democracy Act. Restoring voting rights to formerly and currently incarcerated individuals is a critical step forward to ensuring that every American can make their voice heard in our democracy. Stand Up America’s nearly 2 million members across the country have fought to restore voting rights to justice-impacted individuals in multiple states. Now we are ready to do whatever we can to push this legislation forward at the federal level. We look forward to the fight.” Source: Sunwoo Oh, Stand Up America