According to the ACLU http://www.aclu.org/voting-rights/voter-disfranchisement some 5 MILLION ex-felons are prohibited by states from voting. And it should come as no surprise that the GOP is leading the charge to for felony disenfranchisement. Florida passed reforms in this area back in 2007 only to have them reversed by Rick Scott.
But does the 15th Amendment guarantee ex-felons this right?
The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870 was clearly designed to establish and protect the right of former slaves to vote. But does it do more? It reads:
1. 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.
The condition of servitude can include voluntary servitude... such as indentured servants, or involuntary servitude. We know the term includes slavery, but do others fall into this category?
One might think that for the generation born after slaves were freed, this amendment has no further utility. But the term involuntary servitude is NOT limited to slavery. The 13th Amendment, also passed in 1870, makes clear that involuntary servitude can INCLUDE being imprisoned for a crime:
1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
It would seem that there's a stronger case for protecting the right of ex-felons to vote than for corporate personhood which is based in the 14th Amendment... which starts:
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
As we SHOULD know... corporations can't be persons because they can't be born or naturalized.