In "Lock Them up and Throw away the Vote," found in the winter 2005 edition of the Chicago Journal of International Law, Robin Nunn delineates at least four potential ways felons are disenfranchised.
Maine and Vermont are the only states without some form of felon disenfranchisement. The remaining forty-eight states can be divided into one of four disenfranchisement practices: (1) disenfranchise prison inmates, (2) disenfranchise felon offenders who are incarcerated or on parole, (3) disenfranchise felon offenders serving any type of sentence (incarcerated, on parole, or probation), or (4) disenfranchise felon offenders after completion of sentence. Specifically, in the fourth category, fourteen states mandate that exoffenders who have fully served their sentences remain disenfranchised for a certain period of time, usually a minimum of five years after they are released. Seven of these states deny the right to vote to all ex-offenders who have completed their sentences. As a result, nearly three-quarters of this disenfranchised population is not in prison. Rather, these individuals are on probation or parole or have completed their sentences.Though this list concerns the system in the United States, the affirmative can argue that the negative has to defend at least the first three categories, which are found in some form all over the globe. (Regarding the fourth, the United States is unique in disenfranchising ex-felons.)
Negatives should watch out for affirmatives using a dictionary definition that includes no time limit, and doesn't presume ex-felon status. Consider, for example, dictionary.com:
1. Law. a person who has committed a felony.An affirmative using this all-inclusive definition would try to pin the fourth category (above) on the negative, and make disenfranchisement permanent, which is much more difficult for the negative to defend.
Even Black's Law (eight edition) merely defines a felon as "a person who has been convicted of a felony." Without an expiration date, the negative is in trouble.
The key, then, for the Neg, is to differentiate felons and ex-felons, and declare category four out-of-bounds in the debate.
The Neg needs to have a reasonable definition of "felony," too, in order to stave off any potential Aff argument that felonies vary too widely in different democratic societies, making disenfranchisement unjust.
Any other definitions worth considering? Post them in the comments.