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senate Bill S. 457

Should Nonviolent Offenders be Able to Vote in Federal Elections?

Argument in favor

Voting is a civil right that should not be withheld from people who’ve committed nonviolent crimes. Strict voter restoration laws in states unfairly keep minorities from voting and must be changed to preserve the people's voice in federal elections.

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02/28/2015
If a person makes a mistake and pays the LEGAL consequences of that mistake (jail time, fines, probation, etc) they have done their penance. To continue to withhold rights, ESPECIALLY in non violent crimes is not punishment but spite. To think that 5 unpaid speeding tickets could lead to loosing your ability to VOTE is cruel and unusual punishment.
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stimoceiver's Opinion
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03/04/2015
Nonviolent felons should be able to vote. And own guns.
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Rob's Opinion
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07/24/2015
Reintegration into society should include full participation in the electoral process.
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Argument opposed

People convicted of misdemeanors or felonies should suffer the consequences of their actions. They have forfeited the right to vote in federal elections. Allowing former felons to vote condones criminal behavior.

ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/25/2015
I can just imagine Bernie Madoff getting everyone to vote for "his guy". This topic, along with the other which promotes the release of nonviolent criminals, is truly insane. We must enforce property rights and punish nonviolent criminals, otherwise the misbehavior will become rampant.
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Chan's Opinion
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04/14/2015
Felons have broken the law to a degree that is serious and are therefore by definition outside of the law, based on their own actions. Therefore, felons should not be able to have a hand in the making of the very law that they exist outside of.
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Aidan-WC's Opinion
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06/17/2016
These Indivduals in prisons regardless of their character or their emotional disposition should simply not have the abillity to vote during federal elections. The matter is simply that they are not consideredably affiliated with society until their rehabilitation or realese is conducted. Being in prison for especially for a long period of time dose not incorporate your positve inflince as an Indivdual. In other words by voting as a non-violent prisoner the Indivdual that you are voting for, for a paticular position is not going to positively contribute to your time in prison due to irresponsible or uncivilized actions. Weather it's a congressman, or congress woman, a commander Chief, THERE FIRST PRIORITY IN OFFICE IS NOT TO PASS LEGISLATION TO BENEFIT THE UNCIVILIZED INDVIDUALS LOCKED UP BUT HIS FIRST PRIORITY AS A PRESIDENT IN HIS OR HER HUNDRED DAYS IS TO PASS LEGISLATION THAT POSITVELY IMPACT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, AND KEEP OUR NATIONS NATIONAL SECURITY AT A SAFE STATUS AS WELL. Just think of this, the delegates and the electoral votes already over power and make the American citizen vote/popularity vote look like peanuts. 2.5 million uncivilized INDVIDUALS locked up in U.S prisons would negatively influence the outcome of elections that much more
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedFebruary 11th, 2015

What is Senate Bill S. 457?

This bill would extend voting rights to nonviolent offenders following their release from jail or prison. Any nonviolent offender who has been on probation for less than a year could vote the day after their probation is over. 

Federal prisons and jails would be responsible for notifying inmates when they are allowed to vote in federal elections after being released. If the prisons do not comply with the notification rule they can’t use federal prison funds, period.

Anyone who feels their voter restoration rights have been violated can file a civil action or register a complaint with a local chief election official under this bill.

Impact

Incarcerated nonviolent offenders, those released from prison or jail who have been on probation less than a year, nonviolent offenders convicted of misdemeanors or felonies, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, polling place and election officials, and people running for federal office.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 457

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

Of Note: Laws for voter restoration (i.e. giving ex-inmates their voting rights back) varies state by state. For instance, Arizona has some of the strictest voter restoration laws. There, people convicted of multiple felonies can permanently lose their right to vote for nonviolent offenses. If they want to retain that right, they must wait two years after their release to apply for voter restoration. Ten other states also have restrictive voter restoration laws which can greatly affect voter demographics in federal elections.

Sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), this bill stands in a sea of other Congressional efforts to reform the criminal justice system. Even so, some critics have even pegged the bill as a marketing ploy to win support from minorities and young voters before the 2016 presidential election.


Media:

(Photo Credit: The Atlantic)

AKA

Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to secure the Federal voting rights of non-violent persons when released from incarceration.

    If a person makes a mistake and pays the LEGAL consequences of that mistake (jail time, fines, probation, etc) they have done their penance. To continue to withhold rights, ESPECIALLY in non violent crimes is not punishment but spite. To think that 5 unpaid speeding tickets could lead to loosing your ability to VOTE is cruel and unusual punishment.
    Like (82)
    Follow
    Share
    I can just imagine Bernie Madoff getting everyone to vote for "his guy". This topic, along with the other which promotes the release of nonviolent criminals, is truly insane. We must enforce property rights and punish nonviolent criminals, otherwise the misbehavior will become rampant.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    Nonviolent felons should be able to vote. And own guns.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    Reintegration into society should include full participation in the electoral process.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    Only people who have demonstrated some ill intent to the democratic system should be kept from voting. It's a fundamental right that everyone should possess. I'm sure there are circumstances I haven't thought of but that doesn't change the fact that we all deserve the right. And criminal behavior is subjective. Even they should have the right. We can always do better.
    Like (8)
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    They served and paid the price. Now it's over give them back there rights.
    Like (6)
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    Felons have broken the law to a degree that is serious and are therefore by definition outside of the law, based on their own actions. Therefore, felons should not be able to have a hand in the making of the very law that they exist outside of.
    Like (6)
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    Share
    How easy is it for minorities to be arrested for "nonviolent criminal actions", thus taking away their right to vote, and thus assuring those in power retain power? As a resident of Alabama, I would not like to see history repeated- allow these people to vote.
    Like (6)
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    These Indivduals in prisons regardless of their character or their emotional disposition should simply not have the abillity to vote during federal elections. The matter is simply that they are not consideredably affiliated with society until their rehabilitation or realese is conducted. Being in prison for especially for a long period of time dose not incorporate your positve inflince as an Indivdual. In other words by voting as a non-violent prisoner the Indivdual that you are voting for, for a paticular position is not going to positively contribute to your time in prison due to irresponsible or uncivilized actions. Weather it's a congressman, or congress woman, a commander Chief, THERE FIRST PRIORITY IN OFFICE IS NOT TO PASS LEGISLATION TO BENEFIT THE UNCIVILIZED INDVIDUALS LOCKED UP BUT HIS FIRST PRIORITY AS A PRESIDENT IN HIS OR HER HUNDRED DAYS IS TO PASS LEGISLATION THAT POSITVELY IMPACT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, AND KEEP OUR NATIONS NATIONAL SECURITY AT A SAFE STATUS AS WELL. Just think of this, the delegates and the electoral votes already over power and make the American citizen vote/popularity vote look like peanuts. 2.5 million uncivilized INDVIDUALS locked up in U.S prisons would negatively influence the outcome of elections that much more
    Like (5)
    Follow
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    I can understand a felon losing their right to vote because they broke the law at the highest levels. But taking a person's right to vote for a little misdemeanor? That's just disenfranchisement! Understand there's no way of gaining back the right; for a bad decision made at 18 this person has to not only pay with a permanent criminal record but can't vote for the rest of their lives.
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    They are still American citizens, and should still be able to influence what goes on in their community. Once they completely turned their lives around and live a life without crime, they are just like every other American, especially if it was just one stupid mistake. People change, and should still have the ability to change policy locally, statewide, and nationally.
    Like (4)
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    If they pay for their crime, they should be allowed to have a say in how their country is run. A stupid mistake at 18 should never take that right away permanently!
    Like (4)
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    I disagree with Rand Paul on several issues, but he's often right about personal freedoms. Especially considering the way that our justice system will throw people into prison for years for "crimes" like smoking pot. It's totally ridiculous. Get rid of for profit incarceration.
    Like (3)
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    If u can't follow the laws then u shouldn't be able to vote
    Like (3)
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    Felons shouldn't have the right to vote, period.
    Like (3)
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    The right to contribute to the electoral process is an integral part of being an American. Restricting voters to a very narrow pool is not representative of America.
    Like (3)
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    There should be a program that helps people readjust to society. There should be program certifying the people as allowed to vote after passing a test or some equal measure.
    Like (2)
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    No you brake the law you should lose your priveledge to vote
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    No crime should ever take away a person's suffrage
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    This is needed to allow those released from prison to be able to change their future....just like what prison is supposed to do
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