Harris on Boston Marathon Bomber Being Allowed to Vote: 'We Should Have That Conversation'

April 23, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) said "we should have that conversation" when asked whether felons like the Boston Marathon bomber should be allowed to vote from prison during a CNN town hall on Monday.

CNN anchor Don Lemon asked Harris about comments made by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) earlier in the evening, when he expressed support for allowing felons to vote from prison.

"I agree that the right to vote is one of the very important components of citizenship and it is something that people should not be stripped of needlessly, which is why I have been long an advocate of making sure that the formerly incarcerated are not denied a right to vote, which is the case in so many states in our country, in some states, permanently deprived of the right to vote," Harris said.

"These are policies that go back to Jim Crow, these are policies that go back to the heart of policies that have been about disenfranchisement, policies that continue until today, and we need to take it seriously," Harris continued.

Lemon pressed whether "people who are convicted, in prison, like the Boston Marathon bomber, on death row, people who are convicted of sexual assault" should be allowed to vote.

"I think we should have that conversation," Harris responded.

Earlier on Monday, a Harvard student asked Sanders a similar question.

"Does this mean you would support enfranchising people like the Boston Marathon bomber, a convicted terrorist  and murderer. Do you think those convicted of sexual assault should have the opportunity to vote for politicians who could have a direct impact on women's rights?" Anne Carlstein asked.

"If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they're going to be punished. They may be in jail for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, their whole lives. That's what happens when you commit a serious crime, but I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people," Sanders responded.

Later in the evening, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg said he disagreed with Sanders's position.