Inmates belong in prison, not polling booths

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Graphic by Fans Hsieh

Graphic by Fani Hsieh

When you are behind bars, you should only be behind bars, not in a polling booth. It is completely asinine to think we would allow deviants of the law to have a say in the representation of our country’s government and the formation of new laws.

When you think of an anarchist, what do you picture? I, for one, do not envision an individual lining up, ready to cast their vote for who will represent them for the next four years.

I think of a criminal: one who has no respect for current laws or future ones.

According to Public Safety Canada, statistics show that in the first year after being released, individuals are 44 per cent likely to reoffend.

If 44 per cent reoffend after serving time in prison, which is supposed to “rehabilitate” individuals, would you really want this cohort to have the right to vote?

I for one, would not. Even though only 44 per cent of them reoffend within the first year after release, 99.9 per cent of them have broken the law.

Prison is a place where their rights, not their dignity, should be removed in an order to teach them a lesson to respect and value the freedom and opportunities this nation has to offer.

Now, what about the voting age? To live eighteen years within your native country without having the right to vote seems a little extensive if voting is deemed such a fundamental right, is it not?

Well, it is in place to prevent irresponsible youth from casting uneducated votes.

Therefore, this concept of limiting voting to individuals based on responsibility should apply in correlation to those incarcerated people as well.

They were irresponsible to not follow the law and are now paying the price by serving time in jail.

This means that due to their irresponsibility, they too should not have the right to vote.

This concept would ensure that voting rights are limited to those who have a respect for the law and are responsible enough to cast a vote as to who the next leader of Canada will be.

On one side of the argument, many believe that giving these incarcerated criminals a second chance would help benefit them in the rehabilitation process by making them feel as though they are included in a community.

However, were they not already part of a community?

In many areas, the police’s slogan is to protect and serve the community, which is to enforce the law.

Now, these persons who break these laws go against that ideology and in some way, they put the community in danger.

If they have already been part of a community and put said community in harms way, why would giving them the opportunity to vote in jail magically fix this when they have already had the right to vote and that sense of community? Most likely, it won’t.

It is the laws established that help Canadians uphold individual rights and to go against those laws is to go against your very own Canadian rights.

Ultimately, giving incarcerated law breakers the right to vote is a destructing ideology which would lead to a path of anarchist legal and political decisions.


  1. Mynt Marsellus says:

    Sauvé v Canada (Chief Electoral Officer) – Supreme Court Decision in 2003 that protected prisoners right to vote. This attitude is also not taking into account how indigenous peoples and minority Canadians are over-represented in the prison population. A policy like the one suggested here would be racist because it would contribute to an institutional oppression of people of colour, disenfranchising them in a systemic fashion.

  2. Andrew Allison says:

    As we know, within our republic, unjust laws are passed. Denying inmates the right to vote hinders our freedom as a people and allows those in power to maintain that power indefinitely. If just one unjust law is to be passed against the enemies of the state which are otherwise law abiding citizens, they could be stripped of their right to vote against the unjust law and government that had put them there in the first place.

    Allowing inmates to vote does not condone anarchy, rather, not allowing them to vote condones oligarchy, and oppression of the people. All citizens deserve the right to vote. We must always be able to throw the rascals out.

    “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

  3. This article does not address the main issue here, it’s not that the prisoners should not have a right to vote, it’s that we have such a high level of reoffenders. For a system that like you said is suppose to reintegrate people into society, a massive reoffender rate is detrimental to the fundamental purpose of the system. The argument should be on how we can better service people who need help in our criminal justice system, not deny them of even more freedoms. This article assumes everyone in jail deserving no freedom, not even on the government that will decide their prison policies and sentences. I really hope you look back and try to see the issue from the other perspective Marco Pedri, because people with your opinion could set us back by so much.

  4. How did the editorial board pass this? Some seriously flawed logic, assumptions, and premises here. Wow.

  5. Mynt, I think that you have a problem with the justice system, which puts more indigenous and minority groups in jail. However, a policy like this would not be racist in and of itself. It would not be racist because it would be applied to everyone in jail, irrespective of their group affiliations. With the logic that you are using, would you say that any change in policy at prisons (i.e. food plan changes that provided less nutrition options) would also be a racist?

    I am not saying I agree with the argument made in this article, but I certainly disagree with the comment you made above.

  6. Madeline McInnis Madeline McInnis says:

    Hey commenters! I’m the opinion editor for The Cord, and I just wanted to let you know that you can write a Letter to the Editor (link below) about this article if you have strong feelings and you’d like to get your rebuttal out beyond the comments. For my section, myself, as well as the rest of the editorial board, pride ourselves in showing a wide array of opinions, which we may or may not agree with. The point of the section is to have various opinion, after all! I’d like to hear yours!

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