Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has repeatedly said he believes that incarcerated felons should have the right to vote from prison.
His comments at a CNN town hall Tuesday night, however, surprised even liberal voters.
When asked if he supported “enfranchising people like the Boston Marathon Bomber, a convicted terrorist and murder,” as well as “those convicted of sexual assault” who would be able to vote on government officials that would have a direct impact on women’s rights, he remained unabashed.
He responded by explaining that no matter the crime, old or new, he believes that removing one’s right to vote is taking away an “inherent American right.”
But another Democratic presidential hopeful, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, countered Sanders, saying, “When you’re convicted of a crime and you’re incarcerated … you lose certain rights.”
Democratic candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris skirted the question, saying, “I think we should have that conversation,” without giving an indication as to which stance she would take on this topic.
She did go on to say that she is an “advocate” for the formerly incarcerated and wants to ensure that “they are not denied the right to vote, which is the case in some many states in our country.” (RELATED: Lindsey Graham Challenges Bernie Sanders To Explain Why Charleston Shooter Should Be Allowed To Vote)
Iowa and Kentucky are the only two states that currently have lifetime bans on allowing felons to vote. Each state has its own policies, but 14 states and the District of Columbia allow formerly incarcerated felons to receive their voting rights back after they are released from prison. Many other states have probationary periods before voting rights are returned.
Many of the Democratic incumbents have not said what their stance is on allowing incarcerated felons to vote, but it seems clear Sanders is pushing this issue to become a bigger talking point in the 2020 election.
Tune in to see what was said about felon voting rights during the town hall.