In his CNN town hall on Monday night, Senator Bernie Sanders (I–VT) said convicted criminals, including those who committed acts of sexual assault or terrorism like the Boston Marathon bomber, should have the right to vote.
Ignoring the fact that these individuals have violated public trust and, in some cases, taken away their fellow neighbor’s right to vote by murdering them, Sanders argued criminals’ right to vote is inherent to democracy.
“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy,” he said. “Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away, you’re running down a slippery slope.”
“I believe even if they are in jail, they’re paying the price to society, that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy,” Sanders added.
Sanders’ home state of Vermont is one of two states that allows people vote while they’re in prison.
When CNN anchor Don Lemon asked Senator Kamala Harris whether she believes people in prison should have the right to vote, she said she was open to it.
“I think we should have that conversation,” Harris nodded.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg broke with other 2020 presidential hopefuls when asked the same question in his CNN Town Hall on Monday night.
“No. I don’t think so,” he said. “Part of the punishment when you are convicted of a crime and you’re incarcerated is you lose certain rights. You lose your freedom.”
Many U.S. court cases, including at the Supreme Court, have upheld these voting restrictions as constitutional, citing the 14th Amendment and the government’s right to withhold the right to vote due to “participation in rebellion, or other crime.”