When it comes to voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals, the United States has one of the toughest approaches. Laws on this issue vary from state to state, and although ex-felons in most states are able to vote once their sentences are complete, convicted felons permanently lose their voting rights in others.
While Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's recent move to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 of its ex-convicts was a widely lauded decision, it also incited backlash from the state's Republican lawmakers who called the move "political opportunism" and "a transparent effort to win votes," the New York Times reported.
The issue was addressed in a hilarious segment on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Comedians Jordan Peele and Michael Key played two former convicts who reject their right to vote — using the same arguments that those opposed to voting rights for ex-felons often make — the duo tackled the issue with the same outrageous brand of humor we came to love on Key & Peele.
"Oh, we want to vote! But we felons don't have the aptitude to make informed political decisions," Key's character says in the video. "I use violence to solve my problems in the short term without regard for the long term — much like how America's disastrous foreign policy decisions in the Middle East destabilized the region and led to the emergence of the Islamic State. I mean, I'm stupid, yo!"
The cutting 3-minute video highlights the flaws in arguments against voting rights for ex-convicts. It's an issue that overwhelmingly affects the African American community. According to research organization The Sentencing Project, one in 13 African Americans have lost their voting rights from felony disenfranchisement laws.
By reasoning that ex-felons should be eternally defined by the crimes they committed, it excludes a large number of the population from the democratic electoral process Americans highly value.