Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is facing criticism for saying incarcerated Americans shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
Last night, at a huge CNN Town Hall event with five Democratic candidates, the issues of votes for incarcerated felons came up when Bernie Sanders was asked if all people, even the Boston Marathon bomber, should be allowed to vote.
This is how Sanders answered:
I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away… you’re running down a slippery slope.
So I believe that [when] people commit crimes they pay the price, when they get out of jail they certainly should have the right to vote. But I do believe that even if they are in jail… that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.
But Buttigieg had a different answer, arguing that incarcerated felons should not be allowed to vote until they are out of prison.
Pete Buttigieg says incarcerated felons should not be allowed to vote
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Asked by CNN whether prisoners should be allowed to vote in prison and upon their release, Mayor Pete said:
While incarcerated? No, I don't think so. I do believe that when you're out and you've served your sentence, part of being restored to society is that you're part of the political life of this nation again. One of the things that needs to be restored is your right to vote, some communities and some states do it but some don't.
I think we'd be a better country if everyone did it, and frankly I think the motivations for preventing that kind of re-enfranchisement, in some cases, have to do with one side of the aisle noticing that they politically benefit from that, and that's got some racial layers to it.
I believe re-enfranchisement, is important but part of the punishment when you're convicted of a crime and you're incarcerated, you lose certain rights, you lose your freedom. I think during that period it does not make sense to have an exception.
Kamala Harris was also asked about the issue and essentially dodged the question – saying “I think we should have that conversation”.
Although, she did suggest she would back votes for ex-convicts.