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Making Offenders Vote: Democratic Expressivism and Compulsory Criminal Voting

Is criminal disenfranchisement compatible with a democratic political order? This article considers this question in light of a recently developed view that criminal disenfranchisement is justified because it expresses our commitment to democratic values.

Author
Andrei Poama
Date
03 June 2019

We call this view expressive disenfranchisement and refer to the general conception in which it is grounded as democratic expressivism. Contra supporters of expressive disenfranchisement, we argue that democratic expressivism does not offer a sound justification of criminal disenfranchisement. Additionally, we argue that, insofar as one really cares about answering serious criminal wrongs via an expression of democratic values, criminal disenfranchisement should be abandoned and replaced with a policy that temporarily obliges the relevant criminals to vote. Democratic expressivists should, in other words, move from supporting the disenfranchisement of serious offenders to endorsing a policy of compulsory criminal voting for a finite period of time.

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