Felons and the Right to Vote
The U.S. Constitution fourteenth Amendment
section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
The right to vote as a felon was something that was considered and pretty clearly decide to be a right that should not be granted all the way back to the writing of the 14th Amendment. Each state however has the ability to decide the difficulty in regaining that right once a citizen has served their time. 38 States permit the person to vote once their time on probation is finished and all fines are paid. Other state laws vary and can make regaining the right to vote quite difficult.
Arizona state law seems to be lenient for first time offenders. For the first felony a person is charged that person must serve all of their time and pay all fines. Once the person has done these things their right to vote is automatically restored. They will have to re-register before voting.
If a person in Arizona is charged with more than one felony in their lifetime the process becomes difficult. The person must petition the court that sentenced them to try and regain their right. If the person is only sentenced to probation then the petition may be filed as soon as they are done serving that period. If the person did prison time then the person must wait two years after the total sentence of prison and probation and all fines before they may petition the court. In these cases people who are convicted of felony charges in the State of Arizona can restore their right to vote.
The one case in Arizona where a person cannot regain the rights to vote are those who are sentenced to lifetime probation. These people never finish their sentencing and therefore will never be cleared to vote again.
The right to vote is seen in the United States as one that each citizen has equal right to practice and the fourteenth amendment ensures that all states must not create laws that would hinder any group from casting their ballot. I think few people however read section two of the amendment, which clearly expresses how harshly the country views those who commit felonies such that they are referred to along side those who rebel against the country. I don’t think this is a deliberate move as historically those who commit major crimes have been seen as outcasts of society. A major challenge today comes from passing of several laws that can make felons out of people who are not necessarily a real danger to the country or the society.
Americans need to look closely at some laws such as those that imprison drug users and people who get DUI’s essentially turning them into outcasts for a long time and question whether or not these punishments fit the crime. These topics are used in politics a lot these days to get votes, but I have seen little done to make changes to the way things are being done.