Sanders Doubles-Down On Felons Voting In Op-Ed

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Steve Pope/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) doubled-down on his support for letting felons vote from prison in an op-ed published by USA Today on Tuesday.

Sanders argues that in order for the United States to be a genuine democracy, it "must firmly establish that the right to vote is an inalienable and universal principle that applies to all American citizens 18 years and older."

"As American citizens all of us are entitled to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and all the other freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights. We are also entitled to vote. Yes. Even if Trump's former campaign manager and personal lawyer end up in jail, they should still be able to vote — regardless of who they cast their vote for," Sanders writes.

He then argues that the history of banning incarcerated people from voting in the United States is rooted in "a legacy of slavery and continuing racist attitudes post-Jim Crow."

"Indeed, our present-day crisis of mass incarceration has become a tool of voter suppression," Sanders writes. "Today, over 4.5 million Americans — disproportionately people of color — have lost their right to vote because they have served time in jail or prison for a felony conviction."

He then claims that "Trump and cowardly Republican politicians all over this country are working overtime to suppress the vote. "

At a CNN town hall last week, Sanders said he supported the voting rights of felons, including the Boston Marathon bomber who killed four people and injured 264 others during the 2013 attack.

"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, a Harvard University student, asked Sanders.

Sanders said "the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people."

"Even if they are in jail, they're paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our Democracy," Sanders added.

Business Insider poll found most Americans oppose Sanders position on prisoners voting, with 75 percent of respondents against enfranchising all inmates.