Voting Rights

Bernie Sanders Is Right: We Should Let the Boston Marathon Bomber Vote

Incarcerated people are already paying their debt to society. What good does it do the rest of the population to take away their right to have a say?


One of the more noteworthy points of discussion from Monday night's series of town halls with 2020 Democratic presidential candidates focused on whether or not convicted felons should be allowed to vote while incarcerated.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) certainly seems to think so. "This is a democracy and we have got to expand that democracy, and I believe every single person does have the right to vote," he said. Sanders was specifically asked if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who helped carry out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing which killed three people, or other felons, like those convicted of sexual assault, should be able to vote.

"Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, 'Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,' you're running down a slippery slope," Sanders explained. "So I believe people commit crimes and they paid the price and they have the right to vote. I believe even if they're in jail they're paying their price to society but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy."

Sanders admitted his views on this issue were controversial, acknowledging that his opponents would likely use his remarks to attack him. Conservative activists did indeed slam his comments, with Donald Trump Jr., Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, and others criticizing him on Twitter.

What about the other Democratic candidates? Well, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said felons should not be able to vote until they're released from prison. "Part of the punishment when you are convicted of a crime and you're incarcerated is you lose certain rights. You lose your freedom," he said. "And I think during that period, it does not make sense to have an exception the right to vote." Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) had a less committal response to the question, saying: "I think we should have that conversation."

So what can libertarians take away from all this? The way I see it, Sanders is spot-on. Let's assume that every person who's been convicted of a felony and locked up in prison deserves to be there. (It's a bold assumption, but humor me.) There are about 2.3 million people incarcerated nationwide, though when you only count the people who've actually been convicted of crimes, that number is probably closer to 1.7 million, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. The disparity exists in part because many people accused of crimes don't have the money to afford bail, and are just locked up until they're either convicted or found not guilty.

Again, imagine each of those convicts, like the Boston bomber, is in prison for a good reason. If that's true, then they're already paying their debt to society by being incarcerated. What good does it do the rest of the population to take away their right to have a say? Are incarcerated individuals going to plan a mass conspiracy in order to get a rapist elected president? Or a pro-crime candidate? Probably not, and they wouldn't have a large enough voting bloc to elect such a politician even if they wanted to.

"Even if there were this sort of mythical pro-crime candidate running for office, or even someone whose positions on crime are totally different than your own, you can't not allow people to vote based on your fear that they're going to vote for someone," notes Scott Novakowski, a legal fellow with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. "That's not democracy. That's not what we do."

And it's far more likely that incarcerated individuals will vote for politicians with good stances on policies that actually affect them, rather than for so-called "pro-crime" candidates.

Consider the example of Patrick Murphy, who was convicted of murder for his role in the 2000 killing of a Texas police officer and sentenced to death. By all accounts, Murphy has led a bad life. He'd previously been convicted of sexual assault, and he admits to being involved in a prison escape and botched robbery that led to Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins' death. But while he did not pull the trigger or have direct involvement in Hawkins' murder, Murphy was eligible for the death penalty due to Texas' law of parties. It's an unfair punishment, as I've previously argued. So shouldn't he be able to vote for a politician who might change the law, thus saving his life?

There are plenty of candidates who support criminal justice reform measures like reducing drug sentences or banning solitary confinement. Shouldn't the people who will be affected by those measures the most be allowed to cast their ballot for those candidates, if they so choose?

The point is, there are a host of issues that affect prisoners. Not giving them any sort of say undermines our democracy, and it means that prison abuse may just continue. Pregnant women will continue to be shackled during labor, male and female inmates will continue to be thrown into solitary confinement, and prisoners will continue to be sexually assaulted, often with no accountability for their assailants. (Many law-abiding citizens, after all, won't be motivated to change the system in the same way that people directly affected by the system are, and might not even be aware of prison abuse problems in the first place.) And while the Boston bomber and those convicted of murder and sexual assault are bad people, to be sure, they still shouldn't be terribly mistreated while incarcerated.

Now, remember how I said before that we were going to assume each incarcerated individual is in prison for a good reason? Well, that's not exactly true. Aside from wrongfully convicted individuals, there are hundreds of thousands of people incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, including drug offenses. Simply said, plenty of people who are in prison deserve to be free. Don't they deserve to have a voice in American democracy as well?

Sanders' remarks highlight how far we've come in addressing disenfranchisement among those convicted of crimes. As seen by the response to his comments, we're still a long way from letting felons vote while they're in prison (Restrictions on felons' voting rights are technically constitutional, per the 14th Amendment).

But there has been considerable progress toward allowing ex-felons who've served their time to vote. On the federal level, Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) has been pushing to restore ex-felons' voting rights since at least 2014. While he's had mixed success, similar state efforts have succeeded.

In November, for instance, Floridians overwhelmingly approved a measure restoring voting rights for 1.4 million people with felony records. As Reason's C.J. Ciaramella wrote at the time, more than 30 states still have laws on the books that restrict ex-felons' voting rights.

We've clearly seen progress on this issue, and the fact that presidential candidates are even debating whether incarcerated individuals should be allowed to vote is itself a positive development.

NEXT: We Won't Make America Great Again by Scaring Off Foreign College Students

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  1. I think the assertion that every person has a right to vote should be examined rigorously.

    I find it questionable, but I haven’t really gamed it out.

    1. I can not really see any reason for denying a person the right to vote. Most arguments I hear for some limitation are politically based. So the question is can you make the case for limiting voting based on an unbiased idea. The only real one I can see are:
      1. Non citizens
      2. Under a certain age (typically 18 years)
      3. Not conscious of reality (that is dementia and certain severe mental illnesses).

      1. How about the preservation of liberty and the protection of private property?

        How about the principle that democracy is, as Hoppe notes, “a soft variant of communism?”

        How about understanding that two wolves and a sheep voting for lunch is no way for a civilized society to function?

        1. All of these considerations weigh AGAINST allowing prisoners to vote. Prisoners have shown less good judgment than other people we don’t allow to vote, such as 15-year-old honor students. Prisoners have shown contempt for property (through theft) and liberty (through kidnapping).
          Teenagers can’t vote, even though government policy affects them a lot. The reason given by Joe Setyon for allowing prisoners to vote — that public policy affects them — would even more strongly support allowing 15-year-olds to vote, yet he doesn’t advocate that. Presumably, because he realizes that the judgment of a 15-year-old is, on average, a bit less mature than an adult’s. But the judgment of a felon is, on average, much less mature than the typical adult’s. Felons are much more foolish than teenagers. They also shown contempt for legal rights by committing violent and property crime. If you seek to take away other people’s rights to property, liberty, and life, you shouldn’t have the right to vote in referenda, which can result in further limits on liberty and property through the results of such referenda.

          1. Most states allow the restoration of felon voting rights after the felon has completed their sentence. Not before.

            Another stupid article that plays into the hands of progressives.

            1. For real. No problem once the debt is paid, restoring those rights. During the payment? You’re in time out. Should we call prisoners for jury duty? How about that slippery slope Bern?

              Also, tho the average Joe is no better educated on the outside, is question the ability to become informed about candidates/issues while locked up.

              1. We will allow convicted rapist to vote for the people who write laws about what is and isn’t rape? Seems like that may not be the best idea for society. Or any violent felony. They’ll also get to vote for lower offices, like district attorney and sheriff. So, in counties with large prisons, the prison population may actually outnumber non-prisoners. No problem could come from letting incarcerated people, convicted felons, being a larger voting block then non felons and voting for sheriff and district attorney in those counties.

                1. And someone who attempts to assassinate a politician can, once incarcerated, vote to put the same politician out of office. Would they have let Lee Oswald (had he missed his shots at JFK) vote to replace JFK in the next election?) This is insanity, by anyone’s definition. Prison is the loss of civil liberties. Get over it!

            2. This is yet one more intellectually devoid progressive argument. The commission of a crime comes with penalties, and that basically means an elimination of civil liberties with the exception of further due process. Convicts are necessarily stripped of their rights to assemble, free speech, to be free of warrantless government search and seizure, rights to travel, assembly, etc. Sorry, but if you victimize others and are convicted of it, you give up your rights.

              Similarly, when you see someone pulling a straw man argument [like all the convicts in the world couldn’t get together and elect someone to get them off] probably means the joker writing the article knows he doesn’t have any argument, so he straw-mans any counter argument and says it’s ridiculous. Nobody has suggested that prisoners could run and elect their own candidates, so suggesting that this is the argument is intellectually dishonest.

              I don’t however, see the author suggesting that 2 million people can’t change the outcome, and might prefer candidates who among other bribes, is willing to offer mass reductions in sentencing. Next to virtually unlimited free shit, this would be the next self-serving promise to compete for on the left.

              1. Yup.

                2 million shitty people, who are already known to vote overwhelmingly leftist, could VERY EASILY change the results of a presidential election. President Clinton anybody!?!?!?

                The fetish over universal suffrage is bullshit. The Founders intelligently chose NOT to allow even universal white male suffrage when they set up the country… And every step we have taken away from the concept of limiting who votes via some means has further destroyed liberty in this country.

                The bad life choices 50 something year old white male barista who made my drink earlier today probably should not be able to vote because they’re likely an idiot… Let alone some mass murderer or rapist.

        2. “two wolves and a sheep voting for lunch”
          Problem here is that deciding who is the wolf and who is the sheep is a political decision. As are your other cases. In a democracy, you can not limit voting to those who agree with you.

          1. No, a wolf is a wolf is a wolf, notwithstanding a wolf’s claim that whether he or she or xe is a wolf is a political decision. Those who want to confiscate are wolves. Those who want to take are wolves. Those who advocate in behalf of those who scream gimmie-dats are wolves.

            Beware the obfuscation.

          2. In a democracy, you can not limit voting to those who agree with you.

            You’re misunderstanding part of his point. We don’t allow the broader populace to elect the head of the EPA, FCC, or FDA. Virtually *everyone* is denied that right to vote. Having been denied that ‘right to vote’ would establishing and enforcing people’s ‘right to elect the head of the FDA/FCC/EPA’ significantly improve policymaking and/or freedom? I’m dubious.

            Lots of corporate and other communal interactions in the private sector specifically avoid democracy as either a right, a decision making tool, or both. Frequently, the democratic process and rule of the majority is only employed in mob rule or when trapped on the side of a snow covered mountain and trying to figure out whom to eat first. If Libertymike and I agree to sell/buy property among each other, you don’t and shouldn’t have a broad right to vote on the matter.

            1. You don’t vote for EPA etc. because they are part of the executive branch and are appointed by the person you do vote for, the President. Publicly owned companies have election periodically for things like the board of directors, etc.. Voting is based on you stock ownership. Usually one vote per share. I have voted in these many times.

              1. Which is not a democracy, because a majority stock owner had far more power then a minority stock owner. And non stock owners have no voice. Try again.

              2. The EPA isn’t appointed. They’re careerists.If we were any kind of real “democracy” civil servants would be patronage positions so they could be voted in and out.

                1. Most of,them are civil service employees. In fact, Obama pushed to have many of his political appointees convert to high level GS jobs before Trump took over so they couldn’t be fired.

                  They are the enemy within

              3. Moderation4ever, your flaw is in thinking allowing people to vote is in itself a positive good… But it’s not.

                The Founders restricted it to essentially what might be considered middle-middle class on up more or less with their restrictions.


                Because they were smarter than you, and not as delusionally democratic, realizing democracy WAS NOT a good unto itself. They specifically wanted to exclude the town drunk, the shiftless guy bounced from town to town, the kinda slow guy who never learned to read or write cuz he wasn’t smart enough to if he tried, etc.

                More people voting is not positive just because. And who one allows to vote matters. I personally believe women voting is probably the main reason for the destruction of freedom in America and the west. Every psychological study ever shows their brains simply prefer safety/security to freedom, and they vote that way accordingly. Men overwhelmingly favor the correct political positions, and women do not.

                At this point I’m not going to fight to take their right to vote away, but I would be totally down for restricting voting for both sexes by requiring being a net positive tax payer and passing a history/civics test… Which mostly men would pass, since women are the greatest beneficiaries of the welfare state AND are far less knowledgeable about history and how the government works on average.

                Liberty and pure democracy are really NOT compatible, and the closer we get to pure democracy the less freedom we seem to have. So which one do you want?

              4. You don’t vote for EPA etc. because they are part of the executive branch and are appointed by the person you do vote for, the President.

                Holy shit were you beaten with a hammer as a child? This is why I said the FDA/FCC/EPA they are appointed by an executive, not elected. So, unless your definition of democracy or OPOV is so retardedly broad as to include laws, rules, and guidances being crafted and enacted by people who weren’t directly or indirectly democratically elected, then you’re agreeing that these people aren’t elected and there is no broad ‘right to vote’.

          3. A fekon is a wolf, so identified by due process and a jury of his peers.

            1. Felon, sigh.

            2. Even the one’s who just had too much dope on them, or who lied to the FBI and did nothing else wrong?
              I favor a right to vote for felons because sometimes the laws are wrong and the people most directly affected by wrong laws ought to have a chance to weigh in. I think the law needs to acknowledge that sometimes the law is wrong.
              The only reason I can think of not to have the imprisoned vote is that they are more susceptible to coercion than most people, from prison officials or other criminals.

              1. Then fix the laws, don’t subvert the process. We appointed people to make those laws because we the people either wanted them or were too lethargic to guard against them. That doesn’t imply that those in prison would make better decisions for the good of all.

                1. How does it subvert the process?

                  1. How does giving the privilege of voting back to people who had that privilege revoked, after trial or plea, for violating the rights of others subvert the system?
                    Nonviolent drug offenders are not the majority of felons.

              2. Yup. Any argument about how we should coddle prisoners because ZOMG pot heads are in prison is flawed… We need to get rid of victimless crimes, not treat shitty people good because there may be a few people who don’t deserve it in the mix.

                1. Allowing someone to vote isn’t treating them good or bad. It’s just allowing them to vote.
                  And yes, the system is flawed. It is and always will be. Which is why some acknowledgement of that fact should be built into the system.

                  1. To a very limited degree, but the primary plan of action should be to fix the obvious flaws, not have broad based schemes accepting the flaws and working around them.

        3. Daniel Holtzclaw was a cop convicted of raping 13 women using his state sanctioned authority to do so. No I don’t think he deserves the privilege to vote ever again. Or the Judge who took a million in bribes for a kids for cash scam screw his right to vote. Anyone in law enforcement who abuses the public trust or a convicted corrupt government official should never get to vote again. Privilege revoked. But I think a better approach than a blanket approach is to allow individuals to petition for their voting right to be restored.

          1. Maybe that’s the right approach. Not all felons are monsters. Many don’t deserve to be in prison at all.

            1. Maybe normal people should get to vote on who gets to vote.

              1. We have. Their are two amendments that deal with voting rights. Additionally,we vote for our Representatives who write voting laws.

              2. That’s exactly how Florida ended up with this law. They voted for people who enacted it, presumably giving the people what they wanted. Maybe they’ll elect enough people who run on a platform of revoking it, then again the people will have spoken.

            2. Felons, by definition, are beyond the pale for normal society. That’s why we differentiate felonies.

              1. Felons, by definition, are beyond the pale for normal society.
                You are talking about how things should be, not how things are.

          2. In most places felons CAN get their rights restored, which is why this is such a bullshit argument.

            Frankly in some cases ever allowing people to get their shit restored is a stretch… But certainly allowing it while in prison is nonsense.

        4. What is so special about the right to vote? If one can lose the right to own a firearm for committing a felony why not the right to vote? If someone commits a heinous act, like rape or murder does it make sense they should be allowed to to vote? Will they not tend to vote for those people or policies who guarantee to lessen their penance? Is the next step to guarantee the right to vote to those who are not citizens… Oh wait yes Reason Libertarians support that as well.

      2. I’m going with to stupid to not commit a crime to stupid to vote.

      3. because voting has been turned into a perverse entitlement when it was never meant to be that way. The mistake made by all western democracies is that we disconnected rights from responsibilities. Those with skin in the game should have a vote, and by skin in the game I mean net tax payers. Anything else turns the system into what it is now, politicians buying votes from irresponsible takers. The fact that many western countries even some american regions are trying to push the vote down to 16 should tell you all you need to know about how recklessly corrupt politicians have been in distorting our democracy.

        One can have exemptions, veterans should be able to vote for the commander in chief regardless, but not the rest unless they have earned it.

    2. The US was not set up as a one person one vote system. Only property owners were allowed to vote and Senators did not get votes from citizenry at all. Our founders hated OPOV because that tends to become a Democracy.

      We need to go to nobody on welfare being allowed to vote and no criminal allowed until after they have done their time. If we don’t those people will just use 50%+1 person to vote for more goodies.

      1. Need to float that as a constitutional amendment. The progtards would certainly writhe in agony as it will mean the end of them.

        1. Like dandelions, you can try to get rid of them all you want, but they keep coming back each year.

          1. Evil never really goes away. That’s why we must remain vigilant against things like orogressivism. Joe McCarthy had it right back in the day.

          2. Interestingly, voting patterns seem to be genetic according to a number of studies, probably based on brain types inherited from your parents.

            Due to how things are working out in the modern west culturally progressively minded people are breeding themselves out of existence, and sans mass immigration will become a minority. One more reason to be selective with immigration!

            1. Doesn’t that presume that like breeds with like?

              I’m pretty solidly libertarian and married a rabid control freak democrat…

              Actually I’m a bad example because our kids ended up a pretty solid mix of our beliefs, though the 27 year old is heading Democrat and the 17 year old is tending Libertarian.


              Doesn’t that presume that like breeds with like?

              1. Well, there are layers to that discussion.

                One, in your case the kids would have mixed proclivities, which means your combo of genes is still the cause, and in fact your kids ended up being just that by your own word. Studies from adopted kids show such kids tend to have behavioral traits and political opinions more like their parents than their adoptive parents. This is one of the ways they’ve pinned it as being genetic, as with many other traits. Mixed breeding should breed mixed traits, as predicted by a genetic cause.

                2nd you’re a weird, degenerate, freak of nature anomaly… A libertarian I mean! I’m a right libertarian, but whichever variety you are we’re a rare breed. Us weirdos are going to almost always have to breed with somebody of radically different opinions than us. We’re not the norm…

                However, it is known that ON AVERAGE most people DO marry and breed with people at least roughly on the same side of the political spectrum, and this behavior has been increasing as politics has become more polarized. Hence you have many studies showing self identified conservatives breed above replacement, and liberals are barely at 1 kid per couple, which is way below moderates even.

                As a right libertarian I decided there is NO WAY IN HELL I would breed with a progressive. Don’t care if my dream girl, from a rich family is throwing herself at me… It’s suicide in the long run, because they cannot be trusted. The moral values one has to have to believe that BS shows innate flaws in the thought process, and I could never trust somebody with such flaws enough to breed with them. Divorce rates amongst such people are sky high compared to conservatives and religious people. Hence I plan to marry a religious, conservative chick, even though I’m an agnostic libertarian.

                Anyway, the bottom line is that our genes determine FAR more about the way we are than most people want to admit. Modern science is making this more and more clear and obvious too. We can be tilted a little one way or another by nurture, but nature seems to determine the majority of all our inclinations in all areas of life.

                1. Good analysis and good advice – where were you 30 years ago?

                  Thank you for the long answer!

                  1. LOL

                    I like to ramble, and I have weird hobbies… It’s nice to ramble about weird things I read a lot about!

                    Honestly, it always innately made sense to want to marry somebody that was on the same page as me… The thing is this is hard for men, because women are predisposed to feelz based thinking, and men are more rational… So while any ONE person could find a conservative chick, it is statistically impossible for ALL people to marry those that share their inclinations. Conservative dudes and prog chicks is very common because of the gap between men and women.

                    If you got married 30 years ago you can forgive yourself! Left leaning people weren’t so overly insane back then! Besides it’s not a 100% guaranteed recipe for disaster if you get along well otherwise. Me being unmarried still, I’ve just decided at this point I can’t marry a progressive chick. A moderate… Maybe. My perfect right-libertarian dream girl? Hell yeah! But most likely a religious conservative chick is the best I’ll be able to find. At least they know how to cook!

      2. I’d go back to only property owners having the vote. Especially on local stuff where property taxes pay the bills.

        1. Yup. Essentially the idea with that was that they were the ones paying the taxes, hence should have a say. Also it was a slight “how much of a fuck up are you” bar to pass as well, as idiots usually didn’t own property… Which is the same today.

          IMO if anything one should allow TOO FEW people to vote, not too many. Err on the side of caution by setting the bar too high and all that. I would likely pass any reasonable bars set to being able to vote, but even if I lost my right to vote, but it cleared out millions of morons along with me and some other smart folks, I would GLADLY go along with the plan.

    3. Voting is, at most a civil right.

      You cannot vote without an election. You cannot have an election without cooperation of multiple parties.

      It is not a basic human right.

      1. Yes, voting is certainly not a natural right. The only argument for it is that a system with close to universal adult voting rights seems fairer. Voting has nothing to do with individual freedom, it has to do with deciding who gets to tell everyone what to do.

        1. Voting is supposed to be a means to an end, freedom, not an end unto itself. This is where the crazy universal suffrage types fall off the logic train.

    4. This is the stupidest article I have ever read here. Support for the allowance of a convicted violent felon to vote allows for rapists, murderers, kidnappers, and molesters to have a say in what could be legal or not in our society? A society in which they deemed it was alright to break the goddamn laws of by committing violent acts against other citizens? How is this in keeping with the very basic tenants of government to protect it’s citizens from harm whether it comes from within or without?

      I am sorry this author Joe Seyton lines up with a quack like Bernie Sanders. I am sorry he even has a goddamn job writing for Reason as it appears to me that he is the farthest from being reasonable there is.

      The only vote a violent felon in my mind should have is whether they get electricity or an injection.


      1. “The only vote a violent felon in my mind should have is whether they get electricity or an injection. ”


    5. Pay taxes? Vote. Not pay taxes? No vote.

    6. Voting is only a moral right for those with skin in the game. Voters are voicing their opinion of how their tax dollars should be spent. This is a basic property rights issue.
      If you are self supporting and are paying into the system, you absolutely have a right to vote. If you are retired and are living off of programs that you paid into (Social Security, Medicare, etc) you also have a right to vote.
      But if you are living off of public funds from sources you never contributed too, you have absolutely no right to vote and have no say other how the funds that have been earned by others should be distributed to you.
      These are just basic principles of free and fair exchange which Reason is supposed to be a champion of…

    7. Criminals show us that they are not civilized enough to be allowed to roam freely among society. They lose their rights and privileges when the commit crimes. They do NOT get to select leaders for the law abiding, we can do that without them.

      Once their debt is paid, if they still want to vote, let them, but not until they have done their time. The is common sense. Do Americans still possess any of that? It doesn’t seem so.

  2. OT: Slavoj Zizek vs. Jordan Peterson debate

    I haven’t listened to this yet, but should be good.

    1. Meh – Peterson is over-rated and Zizek is a twit. I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

    2. Not gonna listen, but whichever of them was arguing in favor of universal suffrage is an idiot. If it’s both of them, they can both fuck off.

    3. I listened to it and it was not so great. Jordan presented a cased for the free world vs communism as was the topic for this debate.

      The Zizek participant was difficult to understand as he has a speed impediment and a an accent so thick you could shovel it.

      Zizek rambled all over the place and didn’t present a case that addressed the topic. He sounded like a man who was no longer dedicated to his communist proclivity. The whole thing was rather boring.

      The highlight for me was when Jordan emphatically stated that one is more likely to find happiness in the free world than in the communist world.

      1. Forgive my typos. There is no edit feature.

  3. The argument used to be that because we dumbed down felony charges to such an extent taking away voting privileges was wrong. This now appears to have been a red herring. Now you are advocating that someone who used lethal means in pursuit of a political cause should retain the privilege of making decisions for us all. This seems blatantly stupid, and that your earlier arguments were a false flag. There are some acts that prove you cannot be trusted by your fellow citizens to make responsible decisions about deploying government force.

    1. A guy caught on film blowing up innocent children shouldn’t be drawing breath much less having a voice in political representation.

      1. AGREED!

        1. Fry the SOB! Oh yeah … but let him vote before he get electrocuted! That way we can all feel ever so good about our democratic humanitarianism?? What a bunch of idiocy.

    2. Well, you have to have a consistent rule that is easy to apply equitably. I guess you could exclude violent criminals.
      But really, what harm does it do? It’s not like there’s a big terrorism constituency that’s going to get a bump because this asshole votes.

      1. I would think someone who has done politically motivated violence using lethal force is a good minimum standard.

      2. Zeb for the thief’s vote

  4. >>>Floridians overwhelmingly approved a measure restoring voting rights for 1.4 million people with felony records.

    evidence people who are intelligent enough to remain non-convicted of felonies still not intelligent enough to vote

    1. I have no problem restoring a franchise to people who made a mistake in the past and are now crime-free. They paid their debt to society and the fact that they aren’t now in prison means that they have probably turned their life around.

      On the other hand, I don’t see any reason why loss of franchise shouldn’t also be a punishment like jail time. If you are in prison, your liberty is already being infringed. Why is voting so much more special than your freedom to move/live wherever?

      If a judge and jury decide that your crimes are bad enough to have a temporary loss of liberty, they should also be able to judge you as temporarily not allowed to vote. I agree that it shouldn’t be a life long loss of franchise, but to say you can never lose the right to vote seems absurd.

      1. >>>I have no problem restoring a franchise to people who made a mistake in the past and are now crime-free

        me either, and all good points. thought was funny “Florida Voters” used as example of exemplary voting standards

      2. I have a problem with restoring JUST their right to vote. The Democrats just wanted to maximize the portion of the population who wouldn’t mind voting to infringe other liberties, because they don’t get to enjoy them anyway.

        All or nothing, there’s no case for any halfway status.

  5. The assumption is that convicted felons skew Democratic. That’s why Democrats want them to vote, though they don’t necessarily openly agree with Sanders about voting while still in prison.

    1. They may skew democratic. The prison guard unions definitely skew democrat. Think some undue influence might be exerted on prisoners to vote a certain way?

      Regardless, voting rights in prison should have as much sway as 2nd Amendment rights in prison.

      1. And the second amendment is actually a constitutional right. Whereas voting is not.

      2. The prison guard unions definitely skew democrat.
        Do they? I thought they wen’t with whoever was being most “tough on crime” at the moment.

        1. I thought they went with whoever would feather their nest most at the moment.

          1. Pretty much what I was getting at.

    2. I would assume that convicted felons skew heavily towards not giving a fuck about politics. Which is perhaps the best reason not to let them vote.

      1. Convicted felons skew heavily leftist in their voting, as do lower level criminals.

        This may or may not hold true after adjusting for race, as a disproportionate number of criminals in the USA are not white.

        I believe they ALSO have low levels of actual voter participation, but just on principle, fuck ’em.

  6. Aside from the moral and legal arguments, this would amount to another 1.7 million votes for Democrats, amIright?*

    Add that to a [virtually] open border and it’s a slam dunk for Premier, I mean President, Bernie Sanders.

    1. Anybody with a brain knows that is THE ONLY reason the leftists are in favor of this. It’s also the only reason they’re so pro immigrant, including illegals. If immigrants were voting 70-80% right (like they actually do vote left) you can bet your ass the Dems would be anti immigrant as fuck.

  7. In most states, when you’ve completed your whole sentence (including probation and parole), you can get back on the voting rolls. Some states make exceptions for particularly egregious crimes.

    Only a minority of states require that you get a pardon before you vote.

    Under Thomas Sowell’s ketchup principle, they make anything short of voting from your cell into racism. But looking at what racist disenfranchisement policies actually looked like – eg, Mississippi in 1890 – you observe white felons being allowed to vote, even burglars.

  8. Importantly, behind-bars voting is yet another area in which Democrats — including democratic socialists — are natural allies for us Koch / Reason libertarians.

    Many people who call themselves libertarians are probably reluctant to see a Sanders Presidency because of his ancient out-of-context comments about bread lines. But his pro-voting-rights-for-Tsarnaev stance proves he’s a fundamentally liberty-friendly candidate. Libertarians should absolutely vote for him if he’s the Democratic nominee.

    1. Don’t vote for anyone over 70, El Obie.

  9. What good does it do the rest of the population to take away their right to have a say?

    It prevents our lives from being fucked up by people who want to ruin them and will attempt to vote to do so, dumbass.

    1. Jebus, this post plus a Shikha post in one morning

  10. Felons have demonstrated not only poor decision-making skills but hostile anti-social leanings – I can’t see any reason for barring them from making decisions for society.

    1. As I’ve often said about certain sorts of criminals – ship them off to a penal colony island where the only guards are on patrol boats with machine guns to stop anybody from escaping. You don’t like living by the rules of a civilized society and think it’s okay for you to go around raping and robbing and killing people? Fine, we’re going to stick you on an island with a bunch of other people who think the same way you do – let us know how that works out for you.

      It’s just stupid to allow people being penalized for breaking the rules to have a say in what the rules should be.

      1. We all know how that turned out last time – Australia.

        1. Yeah, initially there’s a purge as the most violent set about establishing their dominance, but after about 150 years, the overall population becomes so neutered that they’ll happily give away the right to defend themselves to whatever government they’ve set up.

          1. So it was a success by government standards. The problem is – how are we going to protect all those private prison jobs?

            1. There aren’t that many private prison jobs. less than 10% of all US state and federal prisoners are housed in privately run prisons.

              There are orders of magnitude more jobs in government run prisons than in private prisons.

        2. Actually, the British imposed harsh rules from day one in Australia and tried to snap them all into line. And lots of non prisoners moved there too… But I do still enjoy calling all Australians prisoners!

      2. I like it. I would replace prison entirely with that (and greatly reduce the number of crimes that can result in such a sentence).

    2. How do they suppose prisoners might vote for new gun laws?

    3. Felons have demonstrated not only poor decision-making skills but hostile anti-social leanings

      It’s a wonder that Martha Stewart is allowed to roam the streets much less vote in elections.

  11. For it just for the townhall debate live from Folsom.

    Seriously I am not sure, on the one hand I am reflectively against taking people’s rights away and 3 felonies a day but people whose own actions are an affront to society shouldn’t really have much of a say.

  12. ‘Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders explained.

    Prisoners haven’t been voting for a long time. Not sure I see the slippery slope here.

  13. Consider Bernie’s statement: “this is a democracy and we have got to expand that democracy.”

    No, “we” do not have to do further damage to liberty by bolstering the proposition that two wolves and a sheep do have a right to vote on what the luncheon menu will consist. Bernie thinks that even the caged wolves should vote on lunch as do his sheep, many of whom blame other sheep for the caging of the caged wolves.

    1. You people always use this cliche and then fail to offer an alternative. At least not one that amounts to anything more than “Republicans should win all the elections because I suck Republican knob.”

      1. Yeah, Tony, as if you could find a single post of mine over the 12 years I have been here in which even you could characterize as “suck[ing] Republican knob.”

        1. I stand corrected.

          So explain what your alternative system is.

          1. I don’t know about Mike, but personally I think the Florida model is a decent balance. Just as you can be temporarily restricted from freedom (jail), or certain business actions (like running a company) or owning a firearm, under certain circumstances, you should be denied the freedom to choose your government.

            But no felony should be a life sentence loss of franchise- unless of course it is so heinous as to require a life sentence imprisonment. Once you have filled your jail, parole, and probation time as well as restitution, you should be allowed to return to being a member of society who enjoys all these rights.

            I think it would be smarter for liberals to focus on people who have served their time. In Colorado, it is extremely difficult to get youth records expunged (you have to file forms, contact your sheriff who arrested you, petition the DA, then attend a court hearing). And they should continue to focus on the over-regulation of this country, which causes way too many people to be felons.

            1. As a practical matter, I largely agree with your thoughts, Overt, though I suffer from democracy fatigue.

            2. I’m not aware of any state that still revokes voting rights for life based on a felony conviction. The length and process for restoration may vary, but you eventually get them back.

            3. Yeah, this whole thing is a false argument. I believe there is a process in every state to restore rights to almost any felon. In many it is automatic, in others it is a single phone call, others may make you jump more hoops. Maybe some states should improve their process, but letting rapists vote from their cell is bullshit.

      2. The solution is a constitutional republic with an electoral college. You’re just upset because you want Democrats to win and because you suck Democrat knob.

        1. We’re all behind a representative democracy. Obviously our system could use some more democracy, since there is no rational reason that Idaho voters should get a thousand times the representation in the federal government of California voters. None whatsoever. They’re not extra special because they tend to fuck sheep more.

          There is no also rational defense of the electoral college. At all.

          Again, two positions that have no defense except that they tend to give affirmative action to Republicans and their sheepfucking rural voters.

          1. criminals yes, law-abiding no on the vote then?

          2. Rational defense – The founders wanted to limit the tyranny of the majority as much as they wanted to limit the tyranny of the few.

            Tony, I am doubtful that you would be ok with a mob hanging someone because they took a vote. Same reasoning.

            1. It’s really not. There are in reality two choices in every presidential election. There is no rational reason why the loser of the vote should get to hold the office and appoint judges. The EC doesn’t work as intended. It works the opposite of the way it was intended, in fact. A sober group of philosopher-electors did not give us W. and Trump against the will of the stupid mob.

              1. Actually it is working as intended -the worry was that urban centers would become so populous that they’d be able to control the governmental policy of the entire nation. If we get rid of the electoral college – a few cities would be the only places that mattered. Instead, we have voters in rural areas with votes that are effectively 1000x more valuable than someone who lives in LA. That was the whole point of the EC – it’s working as intended.

              2. It is working and just because you don’t agree with the philosopher electors doesn’t mean that they system isn’t protecting the rest of the country from being subordinate to NY and CA. Plus last I looked the President is only half of the judiciary process. The Senate also gets a say in the matter. If your favored governing philosophy was stronger throughout the country then you wouldn’t have an issue getting the judges you want. But it isn’t, neither side has a stranglehold on the electorate which I think is healthy overall. If Gore or H. Clinton were better candidates you wouldn’t even be thinking about this. Same goes for McCain. B Clinton and Obama seemed to work well within the system.


                  It goes both ways.

                  1. They don’t. Politicians have to appeal to both Montana and California. 🙂

                    1. Not ones running for president. The residents of a few randomly selected swing states get to always play a central role.

                      Clearly the best system in the world.

                  2. Off your meds again crazy? Where was your argument when Obama won? See if things don’t go the democrats way – you have to hold your breath and stomp your feet.

                    So let’s see –

                    Vermont – 49th
                    Delaware – 45th
                    Rhode Island – 44th
                    Montana – 43
                    Maine – 42
                    New Hampshire – 41

                    Why should these small states have 2 senators right Tony?

                    1. They shouldn’t. The senate is stupid.

                    2. Why is the Senate stupid? Because it doesn’t allow the progressive coast to run roughshod over the smaller population interior states? Because that is exactly the point of the Senate. Basically, what you have stated is you despise every check on power of the populous states to run roughshod over smaller states. So basically you want a tyranny of the majority. We get it. You probably also believe Hamilton and Adams really didn’t abuse their power.

                    3. No, you’re stupid Tony.

                      The Founders wanted contention, and they wanted dissent, and the wanted shit to be a mess. That was by design.

                      The original way we decided senators was even better, and less democratic. They were CHOSEN by their state legislatures! The senate was supposed to represent the state governments, while the house was to more directly represent the people.

                      You’re just too stupid to understand the principles. But let me ask you Tony, what if the results reverse?

                      You know that studies have shown political beliefs to be heritable from ones parents right? Probably because brain wiring is genetic and we’re born with inclinations one way or another. Progressives are breeding themselves out of existence, while conservatives are above replacement rate… So what if in 40 years the EC is the only thing from stopping a hard core conservative sweep of the country?

                    4. I’d say that when you design a government around the pissypants demands of slaveowners who want more say in government than decent people, at some point it’s going to be exposed as a shitty system.

                    5. I think you’re thinking more of the 3/5ths compromise… The senate was originally setup as being 2 senators from each state, selected by the state legislatures, to represent the interests of the state government… Bearing in mind most “small states” back then were IN THE NORTH.

                      Virginia was a big, baller ass state back then. And the territories to the east in the south were where lots of expansion was happening. The south probably had more reasons to want to dick small states than the north did at that point strategically speaking.

                      Learn some shit yo!

              3. If we had a national popular vote, you’d be correct. We do not, however, have a national popular vote (for President).

                We have campaigns and elections that operate under the EC rules. All the candidates know the rules and campaign accordingly. Republicans in California know that they can stay home in droves and not change one thing because the D is going to get all 55 of California’s EC votes.

                Who’d have won the Super Bowl if FGs from 50+ yds were worth 5 points? Who’d have won last night’s NBA game if free throws were removed from the game and all defensive fouls resulted automatically 2 points for the offense?

                When Democrats want to make California a proportional EC rather than winner-take-all, we’ll know they are actually concerned with the voice of the people in elections.

          3. “there is no rational reason that Idaho voters should get a thousand times the representation in the federal government of California voters.”

            Actually there is – people in less populous states have categorically different concerns than people in highly-populated urban areas. The issue is that if we don’t allow rural voters to have out-sized influence on a per vote basis, politicians will proceed to totally ignore the needs of areas with lower populations.

            So there is a rational argument to support the electoral college, even if you declare that there isn’t. Whether or not you want to engage with that rational argument is your prerogative. That being said – your choice to totally dismiss it rather than engaging it will earn you applause on your side, but will be totally ineffective in earning you the support you’d need to abolish the electoral college.

            1. The problems Tony lists are easily solvable. First, go to a system like Nebraska or Maine. Second, increase the number of congressional districts to properly reflect the population. Third, a constitutional amendment requiring the HoR grows in proportion to the population and that no congressional district should have a population larger then the population of the least populous state.

              1. I would throw in term limits just because it is needed.

            2. No there isn’t.

              No other country in the universe has this system. There’s a reason for that.

              It’s dumb. It gives sheepfucking morons 1000 times more representation than normal civilized humans in states that happen to have a large population. There is no defense of this. And the original reasons for the compromises that led to the EC and the senate were rather even more scandalous to say the least.

              You just like it because you like Republicans. It’s the only reason to.

              1. “No other country in the universe has this system. There’s a reason for that.”

                If “better” were constrained to only what has been tried before, well, we would all be still swinging from trees in the jungle. But you do strike me as the “follower” type, so I am not surprised that you are not willing to give thought to novel ideas or concepts that have not been tried before.

                “It gives sheepfucking morons 1000 times more representation than normal civilized humans in states that happen to have a large population.”

                No, it actually give all individual people in less populous states a bit more voting power than all indivdual people living in more populous states. I assume there may be sheepfuckers in every state – both highly populated states and low-population states.

                “There is no defense of this. ”

                Actually there is – people in less populous states have categorically different concerns than people in highly-populated urban areas. The issue is that if we don’t allow rural voters to have out-sized influence on a per vote basis, politicians will proceed to totally ignore the needs of areas with lower populations.

                “You just like it because you like Republicans. It’s the only reason to.”

                Not particularly – I actually vote for non-progressive democrats sometimes. I’ve voted about a 40/40 split, with 20% of my votes going to 3rd parties.

                1. People in cities have different concerns from people in rural areas. You still haven’t explained why one should be prioritized over the other.

                  For the record I do like some measure of government decentralization–precisely because people in differently populated areas have different concerns. But that doesn’t mean a Montanan ought to have 1,000 the say over the national government as a New Yorker. It’s simply unjust, and you’d think so too if it went the other way around.

                  This is leaving aside the actual reasons for such compromises in the original system–the oldest, and hence most flawed, extant democracy. Just exactly how many more centuries do slave states and former slave states get to fuck the rest of us with their evil bullshit?

                  1. You mentioned Montana and Idaho as your examples, then refer to slave states (and former slave states). First neither Montana nor Idaho were ever slave states. All 13 original colony were at one time slave states (former slave states) and no states currently practice slavery. So, unhinged and not even close to making a point. Also, name a single large country that uses the popular vote to elect the chief executive office? And we aren’t a democracy, we are a constitutional republic. Learn the difference.

                    1. No shit Einstein.

                      There goes another fucking kitten.

                      We are a REPUBLIC. That’s why I do COCKSUCKING for REPUBLICANS. It’s in the name!

                    2. Checks and balances retard!

                      The HOUSE is for your purely population based voting. The senate is there to check the house. It was originally not a direct vote AT ALL for the senate, and frankly that system was even better than direct voting for senators. But even this is better than allocating senators in exactly the same way as the house…

                      At that point why not just get rid of the senate moron?

                    3. Why not indeed? The gretest deliberateive body in the world sounds like something Kim Jong-Un would say about himself at this point. Ridiculous.

                      The House is also quite unrepresentative. You get at least one Rep. no matter how small your state is.

                    4. Jesus. You’re just trolling now Tony!

                      What if it were made representative at 1/5th the rate of the house, but with a 2 person minimum?

                      You DO know that would mean California, NY, etc would end up with some EVIL Republican senators right?

                      The truth is it wouldn’t change the political mix much at all, because the country is so evenly split anyway. Big lefty states would end up with Republican senators when they have none now, and big R states would end up with some shit lib senators.

                      Even if there were the exact number of senators as house members… Have you forgot that the Republicans have done better in the house more consistently over the last few decades than in the senate OR the white house???

              2. No other country in the universe has this system. There’s a reason for that.

                In the universe? Are you sure?

                Let’s try “No other country in the world has this system. There’s a reason for that.”

                Yes, there is a reason for that.

                They’re all shitholes.

              3. Virtually the same mechanism as the US Electoral College is used to elect the EU President, except it is the Parliament that elects the EU President and not a separate body specifically for the purpose. But the mechanism is very similar.

                In the EU, each member nation in the Union gets a say in the election of the President. Each member nation has its own distinct interests but also share common interests with other member nations. The total number of members of the European Parliament each member nation has is the basis for the total number of votes for President each member nation has. Each of the 28 member nations has at least 6 MEPs, with Germany–the most populous member nation–receiving the maximum of 96 votes. The number of MEPs is currently capped at 750 by treaty. Occasionally, the binding treaties are modified to reapportion the MEPs, this requires unanimous consent and generally reflects changes in membership and population shifts. The EU President is elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members (which corresponds to at least 376 out of 750 votes).

                MEPs are elected by popular elections in the respective member nations. At the appointed time, MEPs then vote for President, according to their respective party affiliation and national instructions.

                How odd that the modern EU, most members of which are democratic socialist states, chose to use this 18th century structure that is so very similar to our own EC mechanisms.

          4. We’re all behind a representative democracy

            No, Tony, we’re not.

            The US is a Constitutional Republic. NOT a democracy. Representative or otherwise..

            1. Every time one of you people says this, a kitten gets run over by a scooter.

              Just say “Republicans should always be in charge because we are a REPUBLIC, MORAN!” Be more honest. Save a kitten.

              1. Just be honest and tells us why you hate brown and black people so much Tony.

          5. “there is no rational reason that Idaho voters should get a thousand times the representation in the federal government of California voters”

            Yes there is – California is a thousand times more fucked up than Idaho.

            1. If by fucked up you mean GDP.

              1. Crime, balanced budget, standard of living, etc don’t come into play? Idaho actually has a lower percentage of its population in poverty than California sooooo even on the wealth argument it’s touch and go…

          6. Tony, you’re an idiot. Thankfully people like you are weak and cowardly and can be kept down. The country is waking up to that now. So when you subversives push too hard you’re really not going to like the ensuing backlash.

            And no, Idaho does not have ‘a thousand times the representation’ of CA. You raving, silly bitch.

            1. I doubt you can even get to or use the toilet without the aid of multiple implements, you ridiculous internet warrior redneck.

              1. Sticking with just the EC, California has population of 39.56M (says google 5 seconds ago) and Idaho has 1.75M. California gets 55 EC votes, Idaho gets 4.

                So, California gets 1.39 per million residents. And Idaho gets 2.28 EC votes per million residents.

                Idaho does have “more representation” in that sense, but only by a factor of 1.6, and not “a thousand times the representation”.

                In the House, California has 53, Idaho has 2. That’s 1.33 and 1.14 Representatives per million people, respectively. Cali wins with more representation by a factor of 1.16.

                It’s in the Senate were things go poorly for California, with 0.05 Senators per million residents, Idaho has 1.14. Skewed quite a bit, but still only 22.8 times. Far from a thousand.

  14. Sure, what the hell?
    One man one vote is nuts anyway. Let everybody vote. That way, the Russians don’t need to meddle, they can just donate and vote direct themselves. Citizens, criminals, illegals, visitors, who cares? Pass out the ballots at bus stops and bars, mail them in or vote online. All that matters is the result, and that is managed by the press, right? Well, it used to be. New paradigm; we just let Alexa, Siri, and Google pick a winner based on some random algorithms.

  15. I’ve been advocating for this position for years. An inmate has, if anything, far more of a stake in government policy than anyone else. Democracy means the people affected by government policy get a say in it.

    But I also hopes this kind of stuff, which is clearly radical and emotionally charged (Boston marathon bomber, sad face), dooms Bernie’s candidacy before he gets nominated and inevitably returns Trump to the White House.

    1. Had to read that last sentence twice, but you don’t think Sanders would beat Drumpf? Even with the terrible economy and the devastating revelations of the Mueller Report?

      Personally I think Orange Hitler is so unpopular that not even Russian hacking can help him in 2020.

      1. I just don’t want an octogenarian socialist as president. Even if he manages to be electable, he’ll make the Democratic party look as stupid as the alternative as he continues to wave his arms around and demand magical unicorn farts out of a system that is clearly too democratic for his taste.

        1. As gently as I can, let me point out that it not Bernie that makes the democrat party look stupid. It starts with their platform.

          1. Those who live in glass houses but deny that glass or houses are real shouldn’t throw stones they also don’t believe are real.

            1. Don’t worry tony, only 12 more years til it’s all over anyway.

              That’s an actual talking point from democrats. You should be embarrassed.

              1. “All of science is wrong and Sean Hannity is right.”

                Hardly an improvement.

                1. Why are you quoting yourself?

    2. “An inmate has, if anything, far more of a stake in government policy than anyone else.”

      An inmate has, if anything, far more of a stake in self defense than anyone else, so shouldn’t they also be allowed to own a gun?

      If a person has been denied certain rights to liberty, democracy and self defense via due process, it is because they have demonstrated such a threat to society that their interests- whether in a heightened state or not- are discarded.

      However, we could probably both agree that 1) we imprison too many people, 2) it is too hard for a felon to rejoin society.

      So let’s compromise: Let’s work to get the number of felony crimes reduced by ending the drug war. And let’s make re-instatement of all rights automatic after imprisonment (and probation, I suppose). That includes the right to privacy (no more sex offender databases), the right to vote and the right to own firearms. Will you join me, Tony?

      1. Very much so.

        1. Okay, Tony, you merit an honest to goodness atta boy if you sincerely agree with Overt’s proposal.

          1. Once in a blue moon Tony says something sensible. This may be one of those times.

      2. “Let’s work to get the number of felony crimes reduced by ending the drug war. And let’s make re-instatement of all rights automatic after imprisonment (and probation, I suppose). That includes the right to privacy (no more sex offender databases), the right to vote and the right to own firearms.”


  16. Given the penchent we have in this country for throwing people in cages, I do think prisoners should have the right to vote. I would say if you have to throw out outrage porn (like oh you mean the Boston bomber too?) as your counter-argument, then maybe you don’t have a very strong point.

    1. >>>outrage porn

      Bang the Dumb Slowly

      1. That was Crusty’s motto in college.

        1. ‘Bang the toddler violently’

          Pedo Jeffy’s motto today.

  17. Seeing as how most felons have been prohibited from voting for quite some time, all while we have voting rights being expanded to non-citizens in some areas and calls to expand voting rights to 16 & 17 year olds, I think Sanders’ “slippery slope” argument is flat-out incorrect.

    That being said – I hope that the people that are stuck in jail/prison while awaiting trial are still getting the opportunity to vote. These people haven’t been convicted of anything yet. Somehow I bet there aren’t any guards coming by their cells asking them if they’re ready to cast a ballot.

    These people should have an interest in voting since the government is continuously violating their 6th Amendment rights to a speedy trial.

  18. Consider the example of Patrick Murphy, who was convicted of murder for his role in the 2000 killing of a Texas police officer and sentenced to death. By all accounts, Murphy has led a bad life. He’d previously been convicted of sexual assault, and he admits to being involved in a prison escape and botched robbery that led to Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins’ death. But while he did not pull the trigger or have direct involvement in Hawkins’ murder, Murphy was eligible for the death penalty due to Texas’ law of parties. It’s an unfair punishment, as I’ve previously argued. So shouldn’t he be able to vote for a politician who might change the law, thus saving his life?
    Aside from the fact that most of us here have already put his ludicrous argument to bed that Murphy is uniquely being singled out for unfair punishment, is the author actually suggesting that a person convicted of a violent felony, should be able to have vote in what is punishment is????
    WTF kind of logic is that?

    1. Yeah, for their complaints about singling out the Boston Bomber as a poster child against giving prisoners franchise, the fact that Reason keeps holding up Murphy as some poster child is ludicrous. This guy went on a robbery he helped plan. He specifically agreed to the plan- that if any cops came, they would shoot them. And then when a cop came, it was HIS actions (warning his team) that allowed the robbers to ambush and kill the cop. He was more than just a hanger on. He was an active participant in the planning AND execution that resulted in a cop’s death. It is a terrible example.

  19. If someone is in jail awaiting trial, absolutely should not have the right to vote taken away.
    If someone is convicted of a felony, served their time and is now free (including finishing parole/probation), then they should absolutely have their voting rights restored automatically.
    But why the fetish with letting people who are convicted of violent felonies who are actively serving their sentences have the vote?

    1. Seems like a rather arbitrary choice whether voting rights are among those taken away from convicts.

      I think it’s kind of perverse. They’re more subject to government systems than anyone yet have the least say in government. Isn’t taking away all their other liberties enough? It’s not like our criminal justice system is in danger of being too soft and cuddly.

      1. How in any way is my position arbitrary? From the time someone turns 18 up until a jury convicts them of a felony, everyone has the right to vote. If a person is convicted of a felony, why shouldn’t their right to vote be suspended for the time they are punished? They have already shown poor judgement. Now, I agree with most here that there are too many victimless crimes that are considered felonies. That problem needs to be addressed. But why should the convicted rapists, burglers, arsonists and murderers have the right to vote? They are more subject to government systems because they chose that path.

      2. It’s no more arbitrary than taking away that person’s right to liberty or self defense. There is a rational reason behind it- this person violated laws that society felt were important to civilized life. So he is not allowed to participate in that process of self governance. Now you may believe that his interests as a subject of the state outweigh the interests of society who feels he should not have a say in what is legal vs illegal, but neither you nor people disagreeing are being arbitrary.

        1. When you compare the criminal justice systems of the civilized world, any punishment is more or less arbitrary. I prefer a much less draconian system along the lines of Scandanavian systems, where people are hardly at risk of anarchy breaking out, and where prisoners can vote.

          1. Small, nearly homogeneous populations with a Nordic sense of duty. Yes that can definitely be scaled up to a large, multicultural country, 26 times larger in size. We do have strong Nordic clusters in the US, but I doubt you want the rest of the country to be like North Dakota, South Dakota, Northern Nebraska, rural Minnesota, Eastern Montana, Eastern Wyoming, Central Idaho, Wisconsin. These areas also have extremely low crime, but you ridicule them constantly.

            1. I can always count on the word “homogeneous” to show up when pointing out what Nordic countries are doing right. I am of course talking about how to treat people who are already prisoners. That’s a choice we can make regardless of how “diverse” the prison population is.

          2. Our prisoners can vote too Tony, if they’re not felonies!

      3. “I think it’s kind of perverse. They’re more subject to government systems than anyone yet have the least say in government. Isn’t taking away all their other liberties enough? It’s not like our criminal justice system is in danger of being too soft and cuddly.”

        That’s because sometimes people lose their privileges, because they don’t deserve them.

        I was sometimes a pain in the ass when I was a kid. MOSTLY not, but sometimes. When I had been good for a long stretch I was allowed to roam free whenever and wherever I wanted. My parents gave me a lot of freedom growing up.

        But when I had done stupid shit, my ass had to get home and suck it up as punishment. There’s nothing unreasonable about doing the same to prisoners. Keep in mind most people in jails etc are not even felons, they’re there for lesser crimes and can still vote.

      4. “Isn’t taking away all their other liberties enough?”

        We could give them their 2nd Amendment rights right there along with their voting rights. Why take away any fundamental liberties?

        As a side effect, we’d probably have a lot fewer inmates.

  20. I am cool with restoring voting rights automatically upon completion of the sentence.

    I see a lot of downsides to letting people vote behind bars. I see guards selling inmate votes.

    1. “I see guards selling inmate votes.”

      THIS. People like Tony and Reason are no fans of prisons. I am not a fan. If you are a subject to the discipline, privileges and whims of such an institution, your ability to freely cast your vote seem quite compromised.

    2. That’s the point of this, I think: Prisoners are the idea voting population so far as Democrats are concerned: Ultimately dependent, vulnerable to all sorts of coercion, no privacy.

      Just the vote harvesting oportunities alone are golden.

      Then when you consider all these prisoners getting to vote in thinly populated rural areas where prisons are typically sited, you can see the appeal even more. Every prison would turn the surrounding county “blue”!

    3. Many state already do automatically restore, including gun rights in a number.

  21. One must remember that those 1.7 million in prison are not randomly scattered around the country. They are concentrated in prisons, some which prisons make up a substantial portion of the population of local or county governmental areas. Does one really want the votes of the local prison population – many of whom will be gone in a year or two – deciding who will be the mayor or sit on the school board? Some towns already have problems with college students making long term decisions for towns where they only temporarily reside.

    1. This is a very good point. Places like Fremont County, Colorado (pop 46000) where there are like 11 state and federal prison housing over 7,000 prisoners. The prison vote could completely sway local elections. Each warden could become a Boss Tweed offering his prisoner’s rigged votes to the highest bidder.

      1. My moms small rural home county ended up with 3 prisons there, fuck all knows how many people. I would imagine those people could easily tilt the results there too. This is a horrible idea on so many levels.

  22. The state can manufacture a system of laws and then enforce them to put you in jail.

    You should be able to vote against those laws even after they put you in jail for them.

    1. You know, I can see that argument in a lot of cases. But in the case of a mass murderer? Seriously?

    2. That’s an argument against making arbitrary laws, not for felons voting

  23. First, democracy is a logical fallacy: argumentum ad populum

    Second, “American Democracy” is a myth. In the 2016 presidential election, ~60% of eligible voters participated. Hillary scored 48.2% of the votes, Trump 46.1%, and the balance going to third parties or uncast. 48.2% of 60% is 28.92%. Less than 1/3 of eligible voters voted for Hillary and Trump. How is, in any way, majority rule?

    Historically speaking, since 1916 voter participation has never reached 65% for presidential elections and has only reached 50% for midterm elections last year (came close in ’66). So, over the last century not a single election has been decided by a majority of the eligible voters, much less a majority of the population.


    1. I don’t know why people even think America is a democracy. It’s a constitutional republic.

  24. Everything about this is wrong.

    Prison doesn’t make the criminal “pay their debt to society”, it is a State action to try to convince you that it’s useful.

    Justice is repayment, to the victim. Prison NEVER does this (unless, I suppose, the crime was kidnapping?). A dollar for a dollar, an eye for an eye, a life for a life. If the aggressor is proven guilty to the jury, then the victim (or victim’s NOK) ought to be repaid as close as possible. The purpose is to make the victim (or NOK) whole again, not to punish. If the victim wants to forgive all or a part of the wrong, that’s up to them.

    None of this requires prison.

    Now, democracy is fine, unless NAP is violated. Unfortunately, enforcing a monopoly on force AND taxing are violations of NAP, definitionally. So, if everyone wants to vote on [blank] and it doesn’t tax, use tax money, or enforce a monopoly on force, then go right ahead, vote.

    1. It’s repaying debt to society, not victims. Hard to say how to repay the death of a loved one, or how life in prison accomplishes this.

      I know talking of society being a real thing makes people twitchy in these parts.

      1. Who is society to whom I could owe anything? Where is its balance sheet? I demand to be faced with my accuser!

        Who is harmed by murder, “society” or the individual and family? Does that mean that repaying “society” for using drugs is OK?

        1. Well, an important aspect of modern civilization as we know it is in not letting the victims or their families exact what they might call justice. The whole point of a criminal justice system is to rectify harms done to society, and the same goes for every other aspect of government. Individuals do make up society, of course, but if we wanted to repay every individual, we’d have to spend so much money on cops and courts that the system as a whole would err on the side of brutality instead of justice. We err on the side of letting people get away with crimes more often than we incorrectly imprison for them, not because we hate victims, but because we know that makes for a more decent society. Which is where you and I have to live.

          I have quite radical views on reform in this arena, and they certainly do not permit punishing people for using drugs.

          1. “Well, an important aspect of modern civilization as we know it is in not letting the victims or their families exact what they might call justice.”

            The jury’s job is to ensure that it is justice, no more than an eye for an eye.

            “The whole point of a criminal justice system is to rectify harms done to society”

            That’s why it’s an inJustice system.

            “if we wanted to repay every individual, we’d have to spend so much money on cops and courts that the system as a whole would err on the side of brutality instead of justice”

            No, there’d be no State police or courts (as they aggress just by existing), and there’d be much fewer private aggressions as repayment would be much more common (private sector works better) and faster.

            “We err on the side of letting people get away with crimes more often than we incorrectly imprison for them, not because we hate victims, but because we know that makes for a more decent society.”

            I’m not “we”. Also, the reason why nothing should happen unless the crime is proven is to avoid becoming an aggressor one’s self by trying to extract justice (repayment) from someone who didn’t aggress. If you take $100 from someone who never stole anything, you become a thief!

            “I have quite radical views on reform in this arena”

            I’m so radical, it involves real justice. What is your definition of justice, anyhow? Who gets to decide what hurts “society”? It seems if I had $100, and now I don’t, that’s really good proof that I’ve been stolen from. But, how do you prove if something aggressed against “society”?

            How do you prove that drug use or homosexual acts don’t hurt “society”? I can prove that no unwilling human was hurt by this quite easily!

    2. most criminals can’t repay for the losses they made so that is why they are sent to prison, time in prison is the repayment.

      1. But taxpayers foot the bill.

      2. And the general public should be protected from violent offenders.

      3. Would it be a better alternative to just let known thieves, robbers, rapists, and murderers run around free?

        Honestly, I bet that a good part of the reason we’ve seen drops in crime rates is because the incarceration rate has shot up over the last few decades. It might be expensive, and kind of dickish in some ways, but it’s nice to know that you’re less likely to get shot in America today than in 1975.

        1. Fox Butterfield, is that you?

  25. I would support it AFTER they have faced the punishment. Not before.

  26. Terrorists aren’t just “committing” a crime. They’re diametrically opposed to our existence. Letting them vote is like letting a foreign army claim refugee status.

    1. The Boston Bomber should be executed, not voting. Stupid ideas like Nernie’s are part of why there should not be democrats.

      1. Seriously! Why is that shit head still alive?

        I think we should bring back public executions too personally. I think the served an important purpose in peoples head space really.

  27. Well, tbh, I was on the fence about enfranchising felons. But Joe Satan and Bernie have convinced me – HELL NAW

  28. What would a libertarian do with a vote, anyways?

    1. Waste it! DUH.

  29. The real question should be, “Should we let felons run for office?”

    Sanders/Tsarnaev 2020!

    1. You mean should we allow convicted felons. I’m sure there are plenty of felons in Congress.

    2. A lot of elected offices in the US DO allow felons to run!

      I think some states restrict it, but IIRC most federal offices technically allow felons to run.

  30. OK, this is starkly, clinically insane.

    First, the Boston marathon bomber is “paying” his debt to society. He isn’t anywhere near finished with the payments.

    Secondly, we deny the vote to monsters like him because we can be fairly confident that they don’t desire to further the welfare of the nation, so they will be voting for the candidate who’d harm us, not help us.

    Third… Does the nurse know you didn’t get your meds?

  31. As long as we’re at it, lets restore second amendment rights to people behind bars too. At least it should alleviate any overcrowding issues. Bernie believes everyone should vote until he and his fellow marxist swine are elected then there’ll be no need for voting at all.

  32. If you want to convince people of your cause, here’s a hint. Stop using Murphy as an example. He is an almost textbook case of the reason that we have the law of parties. A gang of escaped felons armed with stolen weapons organized a robbery. The lookout saw a cop coming, warned the others, and the entire group (sans-lookout) shot him to death. This is such an extreme example that I likened it to a comic book in your prior article.

    Perhaps if you read the comments, where essentially every post disagreed with you, and even people who agreed with you that the death penalty should be stopped argued that your logic was faulty. Giving five minutes of thought, even a small child can explain why we have the law of parties. It prevents nonsensical technicalities about who pulled the trigger from getting in the way of justice. They all planned to kill guards and they all worked together to commit the crime. They should all get the blame.

  33. The Boston Marathon Bomber should be dead.

    Not voting. Not even thinking about voting.

    The USA does not need the input of people who think rape, murder, assault, and theft are rational modes of behavior.

    We need a more liberal execution policy.

    Those who are not executed, who serve their sentence, can petition representatives of their victims for the restoration of their voting privileges.

    1. Yeah, but they’re insane in Vermont. I mean, to the point where they’d vote for Bernie Sanders insane.

  34. I think voting rights should be restored once you have completed your sentence, i.e. after you’ve been released from prison. I’m agnostic about whether voting rights should be stripped while you are in prison. I can see an argument for it being something you forfeit when you commit a crime, along with living freely in society.

  35. What good does it do the rest of the population to take away their right to have a say?

    It denies people who have been proven to have serious and acted-upon contempt for the rights of others from having a say in the use of force over others. Which is why they shouldn’t automatically get their vote back after the sentence, either.

    This is of course a defense-in-principle; felony convictions for victimless crimes undermine it, and thus how strictly the principle should be followed. But it is the obvious libertarian limit on the franchise, to deny people with a proven, serious, and acted-upon contempt for the rights of others the power to direct the use of state force. It has nothing to do with any notional debt to society, and everything to do with the fact they have, by proven acts, demonstrated character unfit to wield coercive power over others.

  36. Fuck Bernie. It’s a creeping ‘soft’ socialism.

    It’s been shown that if you give judges and DAs leeway to grant lighter sentences for more trivial crimes, they will and they’ll do so more often. Meaning that they’ll charge more people with crimes because of a lesser punishment and fewer people with crimes because of a harsher punishment based on the exact same crimes and evidence.

    So, by giving felons the right to vote and not the right to speak, own property, or defend themselves, you aren’t emptying prisons or granting prisoners any rights, you’re making it easier for the state to legally and conscionably capture voters.

  37. Nah

  38. No. After you’re out of prison, you’ve paid your “debt to society”. While you’re in prison, you’re in the midst of paying that debt through the process of being removed from everyday life. You should not be permitted to vote during that time. Afterward, yes definitely.

  39. Comrade Bernie and his band of merry morons on the left think violent criminals, terrorists and anyone who comes into our country to have the right to vote even if they’re not American citizens.
    So let’s get behind this old Bolshevik fossil and import some members of ISIS, PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas and other kind, understanding and misunderstood people into our country, and let them vote for the violent lunatic of their choice.
    Gee, if only we had forward thinking people like Comrade Bernie in the 1940’s, then we would allow all the Nazis vote here as well as all of Stalin’s henchmen.
    Wouldn’t life be wonderful?

    1. If anyone deserves to be disenfranchised it’s any member of the Republican party.

      That entity has done more harm to the country than a thousand random Nazis or any number of felons.

      Let’s just agree that democratic representation is a good thing on balance and not go down this road. As a compromise.

      1. There it is, the tyrannical piece of shit you really are.

        Fuck you Tony. We should have it out once and for all. You and your cunt friends versus me and the forces of good. But you’re weak little cowards who can’t handle a real fight.

        If we decided not to stay our hand, you and your Bolshevik Buddies would be wiped off the map in a week.

        1. Mean drunks really should find a hobby that isn’t drinking. I know it sucks, but it’s just embarrassing for everyone.

          Merely a thought experiment. You think people from Mexican countries are ruining the world, I think Republicans are. Let’s start with kicking out the Republicans and go from there.

          1. What we need to do is peacefully split up the country so that nobody has to shoot each other, which is probably what it will come to before long if that doesn’t happen. As a native west coaster, I say California, Oregon, and most of Washington state can form a new commie USA. The rest can remain together. The USA could keep a sea port in either far northern Washington, or southern California. Other than that we could split Oregon and Washington east/west or just throw them to the wolves. Whichever. Either way it’ll be worth it to be rid of the coastal areas and their voters.

            I’m part beaner myself, and I will say 110% that illegal immigration has fucked this country up. My home state of California is being slowly turned into a 3rd world country. I don’t have a problem with Mexican doctors or engineers moving here… But we don’t need more dish washers and janitors.

            1. Your home state of California is one of the biggest economies in the world with one of the most progressive approaches to public policy. I don’t know why you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, what with being from there.

              The red/blue divide isn’t by state, it’s by population density. As I suggested elsewhere, local governments serve a role in responding to the needs of local constituencies, which are different based on population density. How about conservatives from Bumfuck Kansas stop trying to impose their will on us educated people?

              1. And California ALSO has the highest poverty rate in the country… When my father was born there it had the LOWEST poverty rate in the country. Funny that. Allowing in tons of uneducated illegal immigrants almost seems like it made the state have more poverty…

                Not to mention scores like shit on tons of other metrics from education, to crime, etc. When my grandpa or great grandpa grew up there it was probably the greatest place on earth to live… Hell even when my dad grew up there. Now it’s slowly turning into a proper shit hole. I literally watched it degrade with my own eyes, as did my father, and the rest of my family. Almost EVERY family member on both sides of my family has left that place. Given that some sides go back to the 1800s and have a town named after us, that we all bailed really says something.

                Yes it is largely an urban/rural divide. But the thing is the coasts have their own special kind of crazy. Democrats in the midwest aren’t NEARLY as insane as the ones in SF or NYC. Even in many major cities outside the coasts voters are around 50/50, as opposed to 70/30 or 80/20 in many major coastal cities.

                Despite disagreeing on plenty of stuff, I will still maintain that Bill Clinton in saaay 1998 or whatever was not completely batshit crazy insane. I cannot say the same for pretty much any national Dem politicians today. If we cut loose the west coast, the national Democratic party would be pulled back more towards a tolerable middle ground, which is good enough for me. The self sorting of left/right people in/out of the current US and new commie west coast nation would help even things out too. It’s just the best way to go.

                Your problem is that you think everybody like me is an uneducated rube from Kansas… When in fact most right-libertarians or conservatives are in fact MORE educated on political and economic issues than your average leftist voter. I’m not a touchy feely person whose emotions dictate their every decision… I actually think things through logically. Sometimes that means being the nicest possible person is not the best course of action. Provided the “meanness” isn’t too excessive, I’m fine with that. Your vag just can’t get over the idea that sometimes being nice isn’t the best policy.

  40. According to Bernie, “This is a democracy and we have got to expand that democracy, and I believe every single person does have the right to vote,”

    But there are two problems here. First, this is not a democracy, and it never has been. Believe it or not, our number one priority is not to give as many people as possible an equal say in government. No, our republic was designed to protect liberty and justice through a system of federalism restrained by the chains of the constitution.

    Secondly, Bernie likes to make up a lot of rights. Unfortunately, our man from vermont doesn’t care at all about civil liberties because he has traded the concept for his craze for civil rights. Voting, however, is actually not an inalienable right. It is a positive right, a privilege granted by the government to the citizens.

    No one is born with the right to vote! You are born with life, liberty, and the freedom to pursue happiness; you were not born with a voting license. Seeing that license taken away from people guilty of homicide, terrorism, etc. is not only a legitimate possibility; it is absolutely necessary. In fact, it makes far more sense to take away their voting license than it does to punish them for their crimes. Of course they should be given their just reward, but life in prison is a much more serious matter than the ability to vote. Is Bernie suggesting that nobody ever be arrested or incarcerated?

    1. “No, our republic was designed to protect liberty and justice through a system of federalism restrained by the chains of the constitution.”
      Correct. Democratic voting was seen as a necessity within the ground rules of a republic; no mob rule.

      “Secondly, Bernie likes to make up a lot of rights. Unfortunately, our man from vermont doesn’t care at all about civil liberties because he has traded the concept for his craze for civil rights.”
      I’ll disagree. The Bern has no interest in what were considered ‘civil rights’; the rights of all people to equal protection under the law.
      His devotion has little to do with that, and much to do with the fact that he has failed to make a living for himself prior to sucking at the public teat, and a hope that he can get you and me to provide for a comfortable life for those equally incompetent.

  41. Should the Boston Bomber have a vote on what gets published at

    1. If he votes against this new format, I’d say yes.

      1. It kinda sucks… But once I adjusted the page zoom level on here to make text smaller and less childish looking, it’s not THAT bad. It’s shittier than before, but workable.

  42. The so-called :libertarians” of Reason: Islamic terrorist mass murderers deserve to be allowed to vote and generally destroy our society, and republicans deserve to be massacred in cold blood.”

    1. Matt is an ‘ilibertarian’, a term I just came up with. He’s showing his true progressive colors. I’m always amused at the idea of these soft, weak urbanite leftists thinking they’re going to kick some conservative ass. Considering most have never been in a fight in their lives and have no weapons or training.

      God help them when they really step out of line. Shit’s going to get real, and fast.

    2. HOLY SHIT.

      That tweet is ridiculous. These people really are insane.

      If every conservative were gone from this country, we’d be living in the USSR in like 2 weeks flat. WTF is wrong with people who supposedly appreciate freedom who actually think shit like that. Cons are not perfect, but they’re 1000x better than leftists.

  43. Honestly, I wouldn’t be opposed to allowing only net taxpayers to vote. I’m not saying I advocate that solution, but I’m not philosophically opposed to it. You can make a pretty good case that this restricts franchise to people who have proven themselves willing & able to put societal interests above their personal interests.

    I have no problem at all with stripping prisoners of their voting rights.

    1. Too easy to manipulate, (The government sets the policies that decide who’s a net taxpayer.) and given ‘progressive’ taxation, depending on how you allocate government spending aside from welfare, very few people are net taxpayers.

      I’m not saying it’s entirely a bad idea, but it would have to be VERY carefully implemented.

    2. Anything is better than NO restrictions. Universal suffrage is the whole problem.

      And half the country are net positive tax payers… Mostly the better half. I’d be super down for such a law. I also favor a history/civics test.

      YES, you can argue either can be gamed, but again anything is better than nothing.

  44. If American prisons were crawling with white supremacists, there’s no way most democrats would advocate for restoring their voting rights in prison, even if the principles they’re arguing for remains the same.

    At least half of the prison population is black or foreign born. It’s probably close to 60-70%. The democrats know what they’re doing. Their power play is transparent in ways American governance will never be.

  45. I’m still not totally unsold on the idea that having people like Bernie propose the most radical possible position on a topic (zero minute abs!) means the center of the party can inch its way leftward and seem reasonable by comparison. Maybe Bernie staking these positions means we can get an even more fruitful conversation going letting at least released prisoners vote.

    Of course he should accept that this is his role in the party and stop trying to be president.

  46. Anyone voting is no big deal. Many people who claim to vote never even bother.

  47. lets see allow criminals to vote. and all those terrorist that people wanted to try and imprison in criminal court within the US will also be allowed to vote in our elections. real smart to let people who hate you to vote and i considerer criminals people who also hate until they have done their time.

  48. “Again, imagine each of those convicts, like the Boston bomber, is in prison for a good reason. If that’s true, then they’re already paying their debt to society by being incarcerated. What good does it do the rest of the population to take away their right to have a say?”

    Losing the right to vote is part of their “paying their debt to society” along with being locked up.

    And what good does it do the rest of the population to allow them to vote?

  49. There shouldn’t even be elections. There should just be a lottery with 1 year terms, and you can only serve once, for everything.

    1. How about no politicians at all? If people want leaders, let them choose their own leaders, and leave me out of it.

    2. Honestly, I think if we randomly selected people for all offices we could, on net, end up better off than now. 1 year terms is too short. Maybe 2 or 4 years.

      The problem with lots of elected pols is they get too into wheeling and dealing mode, and lose their principles, if they ever had any to begin with. Most shit libs I know would at least try to be sensible with the way they structured their dirty commie programs. And most conservative I know would be waaay more apt to actually cut useless spending than elected Rs are.

      It would probably work better than the system we have now… Which is sad.

  50. Looks like we’re in for some pressure cooker elections!

  51. Voting should carry the death penalty.

  52. Hard to vote when you’re dead though. How long does it take to terminate someone who’s obviously guilty?

  53. Yes, bad things happen in prison, and yes innocent people get locked up. These are separate issues from felons voting. (Ya know, the people with extremely poor judgement, a lack of regard for other people or property.)

    Separate issues require separate remedies, and incarcerated felons voting is NOT the remedy.

    Yet another disappointment from Reason.

    1. You forgot to explain your argument.

      1. “(Ya know, the people with extremely poor judgement, a lack of regard for other people or property.)”

        I understand why you would object to that explanation.

      2. I did, it was brief, and you’re thick.

  54. Here’s the Bern, trying like hell to avoid admitting he backs an authoritarian government by snapping his fingers and calling it ‘democratic socialism’, since hanging ‘democratic’ on the front makes all the bad stuff go away:

    “Student asks Bernie Sanders about ‘failures of socialism”’

  55. The question of other convicts aside, Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should not only be prohibited from voting, he should have had his citizenship revoked. His brother was denied citizenship on moral grounds due to a history of domestic violence. Sadly, his green card was not revoked. Dzhokhar became a citizen on 9/11/12, little more than half a year before the Boston Marathon bombings. Arguably, he committed an act of grievous fraud when he took the oath of citizenship, swearing to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” He not only failed to do what he promised, he turned out to be one of those very enemies himself. There are plenty of immigrants and refugees in the world who would take that oath with heartfelt sincerity, and not commit an act of war against the very nation that offered them sanctuary mere months later. No, under no circumstances should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ever be permitted to vote in an American election.

  56. The last time Dzhokhar Tsarnaev voted he did it with his pressure cooker. Why the fuck should we let him vote on anything ever again?

  57. Hilarious! Most criminals have not “paid their debt to society.” You can not repay society for violent felonies. Violent felons deserve to die. Even then their debt is not “repaid.”

    Property crime is HUGELY underpunished in America. Punishments should be much much greater.

    If you want to make an argument that victimless crimes like prostitution, drugs, gambling, etc. shouldn’t be crimes- fine. Decriminalize them.

    Reason is starting to crank out a lot of liberal and pacifist garbage. Scary.

    1. The progs have really taken over the big libertarian organizations at this point.

  58. Who should NOT be allowed to vote? Sounds like that list might be zero.

  59. Jesus Christ this article is retarded!

    The ENTIRE problem with the USA today is because we allow TOO MANY people to vote. The Founders were smarter than idiots like you, which is why the USA IS NOT a democracy. It is a constitutionally limited democratically elected representative republic, which had strong limitations on who could vote. They severely limited who could vote because they realized that a good chunk of the population is too retarded/uneducated to vote. That is every bit as true today as it was then.

    They wanted smart people with their shit together to decide things. In their day that was white male landowners of good character. Today, in trying to be as egalitarian as is practicable, that might be net tax payers who can pass a history/civics test.

    Whatever the case it’s a sound principle. Universal suffrage is WHY we don’t have freedom people! Mostly only above average intelligence people genuinely intellectually understand why freedom matters. Poor/dumb people vote for free shit, or giving more power to politicians to do things they personally like.

    As much as I love Andrew Jackson for slaying the British and Indians and killing our central bank, the man fucked up BIG TIME by pushing for universal white male suffrage as that opened the flood gates to the mess we have now.

    Ending universal suffrage is not a cure all, but done correctly it would help greatly. There is no virtue in allowing shit bags who overwhelmingly have bad views to vote. This cult of so called democracy is self destructive.

    We already know that most criminals vote for leftists… So how exactly is allowing them to vote going to improve things? It won’t. Doing things that you know up front will make things worse, because daft principles, will NOT make things better magically somehow… It will make things worse.

    It’s oppressive to force your kids to brush their teeth, or not let them choose what’s for dinner every night… But the alternative is a mouth full of rotted out teeth, ice cream for dinner every night, stunted growth from malnutrition, and obesity… This is why parents (the wise ones) make the choices, not kids. There are many children over the age of 18, and this is why universal suffrage is bullshit. The Founders got it, you people need to accept it too.

    1. “And while the Boston bomber and those convicted of murder and sexual assault are bad people, to be sure, they still shouldn’t be terribly mistreated while incarcerated.”

      Also, duh fuck? Why should the shittiest people on earth be treated well? Are you a fucking lady with a vagina or something?
      What is wrong with you people where you’ve completely lost your balls and think we need to be all touchy feely and nice to horrible people all the time? Not all people DESERVE to be treated well dude.

      We need to change who gets arrested to ensure only crimes with actual victims put people behind bars… But once we’ve done that, there’s nothing wrong with punishing the fuck out of shitty people.

      100% of prisoners should be doing forced labor to cover 100% of their own costs of incarceration, if not being forced to do more work than is needed to support them. And I REALLY don’t care how comfy the bed is for a rapist or mass murderer. I’d be fine with rapists being anally raped to death with a broom stick as their punishment, provided the court system really proved beyond a shadow of doubt they were guilty. Child murderers being literally run through a wood chipper VERY SLOWLY so they REALLY feel it? FUCK YEAH!

      Pieces of shit deserve to be treated like pieces of shit. Grow your balls back dude.

  60. “What good does it do the rest of the population to take away their right to have a say? Are incarcerated individuals going to plan a mass conspiracy in order to get a rapist elected president? Or a pro-crime candidate? Probably not, and they wouldn’t have a large enough voting bloc to elect such a politician even if they wanted to.”

    “So shouldn’t he be able to vote for a politician who might change the law, thus saving his life?”

    “Shouldn’t the people who will be affected by those measures the most be allowed to cast their ballot for those candidates, if they so choose?”

    Leftism is cancer and you’re a dumbass. Everyone sees straight through your doublethink.

  61. […] Unfortunately, it’s not only socialists like Sanders arguing this point. Joe Setyon, an Assistant Editor at Reason, makes the case for why libertarians should support letting prisoners vote: […]

  62. Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) had a less committal response to the question, saying: “I think we should have that conversation.”

    Again with the “National Conversation”. *Say* something, Kamala.

  63. Sure, why not allow them to vote? And why take away their 2nd Amendment rights just because they’re in prison? And their 1st Amendment rights to say anything they want to their jailers any names they want without fear of discipline, or to get whatever magazines they want in prison.

  64. Where’s the push to restore 2nd Amendment rights to ex-felons at least after their release from prison and off probation so they’ve “served their time”. Why, just trying to buy a gun after that is currently a felony!

    And where’s the push to eliminate the post-release lifetime registration requirements for sex offenders? Those poor folks have served their time, the registration and hassles they go through are just not fair.

  65. I’m not sure how this would work. Since they cannot go to the polling place, they would have to vote absentee. I don’t know prison rules, but I believe all incoming and outgoing mail is read by prison staff. Would they then be denied a “secret” ballot?

  66. This kind of silly analysis is precisely why I part ways with Libertarians. During the long diatribe about the Boston Marathon bomber having the right to vote, the author wrote absolutely nothing, nothing whatsoever, about the Boston Marathon bomber’s need to behave as a responsible citizen. The right to vote, you see, is not a right endowed to all men and women by their Creator as an inalianable human right, but a privilege bestowed by a democratic government. May I point out, also, that the Boston bomber, and every other felon currently sitting in jail, did, at one time, have the right to vote. No one denied any one of them the right to vote. Each and every one of them gave up the right to vote when when each decided to commit a felony. No one has taken away anyone’s “right” to vote.

    1. Hey, just remember MOST libertarians don’t believe 90% of the nonsense that is published by a rag like Reason nowadays. We’re mostly all a lot more sane and nuanced. Read the comments to see what real libertarians believe and you’ll see the whole libertarian spectrum represented!

  67. How do you stop wardens from coercing inmates’ votes? Or from setting all cell TVs to Fox News? Wardens have near-total authority with little oversight.

  68. Seyton fails to get the fundamental principles right, and therefore arrives at the wrong conclusion.

    Heinlein is right. A vote represents your share of the violence done by the state. It is not a natural right. It is not a fundamental right. It is not just “your say.” It is force.

  69. You’re an exceedingly silly person, Joe Seyton. You’re the kind who gives libertarianism a bad name.

  70. Bernie’s a friggin dope. He is part of our government and doesn’t even know that it is a Republic.

  71. If incarcerated people are allowed to vote, in what district would they vote? Consider that many prisons are located in rural, lightly populated areas. If prisoners vote as residents of those areas (which they certainly are) then they might easily overwhelm the votes of local non-incarcerated people. What mischief might that result in?

  72. […] voting rights advocates argue that, while the rule of law requires appropriate punishments for crimes, this can be done without […]

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