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Is Branstad's felon voting application unfair?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | JUNE 28, 2012 6:30 AM

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No

Compared with most of the other nations of the world, America has a very forgiving society. We as a nation have made it possible for criminals to receive a second chance after serving time for the crimes they have committed. Now, just because you serve your time doesn't and shouldn't mean a convicted person should be given all the rights and freedoms that are enjoyed by law-abiding citizens. However, should committing a crime automatically disallow people from having their voice be heard?

Gov. Terry Brandstad's felon-voting law is unfair, because all convicted felons should have the opportunity to register to vote once they have served their time.

According to the Associated Press, Branstad has made Iowa one of the hardest states in the United States for convicted felons to regain their voting rights — leaving the state to be one of four that requires felons to seek approval from the governor to once again politically participate. This action, made on the first day of Branstad's return to the governor's seat, went against the national trend that was lifting the felon-voting restrictions.

Active political participation among U.S. citizens is crucial to the advancement of our society, and allowing convicted felons to vote after their release from prison can help show other Americans how important voting really is. A message that says "Hey Americans, voting plays such an important role in our society that we even encourage convicted felons to get out and vote — once they have served their time."

Especially here in Johnson County, it's clear that we need a wake-up call to get out and vote — we have seen low voter turnouts in each of the past few major elections.  

After serving the time set forth by the court system, all U.S. citizens are taught they can still contribute to society and make better lives for themselves. Who are we as a state to hold our citizens to a higher standard than does the American legal system?

All too often do convicted felons find their way back into conflicts with the law, and so we must find ways for these past criminals to contribute to society in a positive way. Encouraging them to inform themselves about the issues and participate in politics could be a great way to keep convicted felons on the good side of the law.  

Our society established itself as a democracy in which all citizens had the opportunity to help determine public policy. Not allowing convicted felons who have served their time to vote rocks the foundations of that democracy — every free U.S. citizen should have the right to vote.

— Matthew Williams

Yes

In all seriousness, come on. If people haven't fully paid their debts to society, then obviously they should get all their rights back.

In order to see if they have fully paid for their debts to society, you have to fill out some paperwork and that's that. Yeah, some people don't get their right to vote back after they apply — but to be honest with you, this isn't about felons' rights or about a two-page long application. It's about politics.

When former Gov. Tom Vilsack (now the secretary of Agriculture) struck down this policy in 2005, it was politically motivated. Around 100,000 felons were automatically given the right to vote by a Democratic governor — 100,000 new voters who are restored rights without any questions.

Whom do you think they would vote for? I'm pretty sure the guy who just said you can vote again. I don't know.

And it worked for a while, until the voters got wise (the voters including the felons) and decided to elect a Republican.

Gov. Terry Branstad, in all his infinite wisdom, just restored the status quo when he returned to office — which is exactly what the voters wanted when they re-elected him after his 12-year absence. What would we do without the guy? Probably let felons vote.

Voting is a privilege. I mean, it's a right, too — but if you lose that right by doing something stupid, the government better make sure you deserve the right again. Using it as a political football is ridiculous.

— Benjamin Evans


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