This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published May 8, 2016 by USA Today.
Giving violent felons the automatic right to vote is not morally defensible.
In elections, just as in society, it is important that everyone follow the rules.
Automatically restoring the right to vote for felons is a bad idea. Before felons enjoy the full measure of citizenship, at a minimum, they should seek an individualized determination that they deserve the right to vote. Redemption loses its value when redemption is automatically bestowed.
If the goal of felon voting restoration is to integrate felons back into society, it should be an active and contemplative exercise by the applicant seeking redemption, not an automatic one.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s decree that felons will enjoy automatic voting rights in the swing state of Virginia was a bad idea and contrary to state law. When the integrity and credibility of American elections is involved, it is essential that everyone follow the rules. Breaking the rules is particularly corrosive when it appears to have a brazenly partisan aim, as in Virginia.
Giving violent felons the automatic right to vote is not morally defensible. Violent criminals who have shown contempt for other members of society and our laws should not have a voice in the process of writing laws. When a violent felon helps to choose lawmakers, laws will invariably skew more toward the criminal to the detriment of the law-abiding citizen.
If you commit violent crimes, in nearly every state you forfeit multiple constitutional rights, including the right to vote and the right to own firearms. Most advocates for restoring rights never seem to get around to Second Amendment rights. That’s no accident because the national campaign to restore felon voting rights is first and foremost an effort to help Democrats win elections.
Studies have shown that felons vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, and the advocates for felon voting know it, and usually like it. Automatically restoring felon voting rights is the latest instance of normalizing criminal behavior. Voters with violent criminal tendencies are the last thing we need anywhere close to the American election process.