Look at a bill that would grant the right to vote in federal elections to formerly incarcerated people.
Should the right to vote be something you can lose? If so, can it then be restored? Is this a decision best left to the states or the federal government? What are the consequences of disenfranchising those who have been through the criminal justice system?
In this lesson, students will debate the Democracy Restoration Act and explore questions of mercy, justice, rule of law, racial inequality, and the rights of a citizen. Different states have taken different approaches to voting rights for those convicted of felonies. In most states, incarcerated citizens cannot vote. In some states, they are disenfranchised even after their release.
The Democracy Restoration Act proposes to restore the right to vote in federal elections to any person who has completed their sentence. In debating whether to support or oppose this bill, students will confront key aspects of the ongoing American struggle over who representative democracy is for.
Use this lesson plan to explore the issue and prepare to conduct a Senate debate on a related bill.