Sanders Continues to Defend Call for Prisoners to Vote: ‘This Is Not a Radical Idea’

Sen. Bernie Sanders Participates In A Fox News Town Hall In Pennsylvania
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• April 24, 2019 4:30 pm


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) is continuing his call for prisoners in the United States to be allowed to vote, tweeting Wednesday "this is not a radical idea" by citing other nations that have such a policy like Canada.

Sanders drew flak this week after saying he would support "terrible people" behind bars having the right to vote, such as convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Although he's made similar remarks before, his remarks at Monday's CNN town hall in New Hampshire have drawn outsized media attention.

"More than 30 countries around the world today such as Canada, South Africa and Finland allow prisoners to vote," he tweeted. "This is not a radical idea. Every American citizen must be able to vote. Period."

Sanders responded to a woman asking whether terrorists like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and rapists should be allowed to still vote. He said the Constitution said "everybody can vote" and warned of a slippery slope if it was curbed.

"If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they're going to be punished," Sanders said. "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."

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) said she supported having a "conversation" about the idea before hastily walking it back on Tuesday, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said flatly he opposed it. Laws vary from state to state over how or whether felons can regain the franchise after leaving prison.

Published under: Bernie Sanders