An ‘Agenda for Demolition’: The Fallacy and the Danger of the ‘Subversive Voting’ Argument for Felony Disenfranchisement

35 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2012

See all articles by Alec Ewald

Alec Ewald

University of Vermont - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 24, 2012

Abstract

This essay exposes the weaknesses in the theory that convicts should not be allowed to vote because they might use their votes for evil purposes. Part I shows that the subversive-voting hypothesis is alive and well in the contemporary debate over disenfranchisement. Part II demonstrates that the subversive-voting claim is profoundly antithetical to modern ideas about universal suffrage – and is, in fact, no different from what opponents of expanded voting rights have been arguing for hundreds of years. Part III turns to evidence from a generation of social science research to demonstrate that the theory that convicts would vote subversively is utterly without empirical support. Part IV argues that even if offenders did plan to pursue interests different to those of other voters, the idea that they can be stripped of voting rights for that reason violates essential American political and constitutional principles, and is contrary to current international human rights law.

Keywords: felony disenfranchisement, felony disfranchisement, criminal disenfranchisement, subversive voting, Green v. Board of Elections, Carrington v. Rash

Suggested Citation

Ewald, Alec, An ‘Agenda for Demolition’: The Fallacy and the Danger of the ‘Subversive Voting’ Argument for Felony Disenfranchisement (March 24, 2012). Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 36, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2028315

Alec Ewald (Contact Author)

University of Vermont - Department of Political Science ( email )

United States
(802)656-0263 (Phone)

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