A study conducted by Yale University during the 2010 United States election cycle, has shown that people participating in elections do not necessarily make good citizens. While the study shows that there are some who vote that remain law abiding, the rest of the population does not.
The study published in the journal, ‘Political Behavior‘, conducted a controlled test of 550,000 potential voters during the mid-term elections of 2010 in the U.S. Of those tested a majority of them were nonwhite voters and were between the ages of 18 and 20 years old. Those who voted however, were 55 percent less likely to be involved in criminal activity or under some sort of law enforcement supervision.
“While voting is a worthy activity, it does not appear to prevent people from committing crimes or set them on a virtuous path toward good citizenship,” Yale Political Science professor Gregory A. Huber said regarding the study.
Despite the beliefs of the political thinkers like Rousseau, de Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill, all of whom believed that citizens would become contributing members of society if they participated political, the study however has proven that not to be the case.
“Our findings have important policy implications,” Hubert continued. “For example, if voting prevented criminal behavior, then the measures encouraging people to vote would be a cost-effective way to reduce incarceration. Unfortunately, our study shows this kind of intervention is unlikely to succeed.”
Along with the study, studying crime, the study also shows that those who receive campaign or reading material vote at a 19 percent higher rate than those who didn’t.
In the United States those behind bars automatically get their voting rights taken away from them. Only Maine and Vermont allow prison inmates and felons the right to vote. In the United States there are 1.5 million behind bars.
“It’s a basic American right to be able to vote for your elected officials,” Maine’s Prison’s warden Randall A. Liberty said in an interview with Al= Jazeera.
Other states in the United States have tougher laws regarding the felon voting. Florida, Iowa, and Virginia have the toughest laws when it comes to felons and voting. In those three states, felons permanently lose their right to vote. In Alabama if you are a convicted felon, your right to vote is permanently removed.
With 2012 being the latest states available, there are 1,511,497 felons incarcerated in U.S state and federal prisons. 744,500 are behind bars in U.S County jails.
At the time of the study, 47.7 percent of those in jail were in for violent offenses, while 21.7 percent were in for drug related offenses.
In conclusion, the right to vote is an important one that should be taken seriously even though it may not reduce crime in society. We as a society should provide every opportunity for law abiding citizens to practice their constitutional right to vote. For in the constitution says “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.
Links to sources:
1) www.springer.com: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-016-9385-1
2) Al-Jazeera Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/09/2016-election-america-prison-voters-160906085936094.html
3) Yale News Link: https://news.yale.edu/2017/10/31/study-shows-voting-does-not-reduce-crime
4) Felonvoting.procon.org link: https://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004339