U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says the right to vote should extend to those in jail — even the Boston Marathon bomber. “If somebody commits a serious crime — sexual assault, murder — they’re going to be punished,” Sanders said in a CNN town hall talk Monday night, reports the Boston Herald. But, “I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people.” He added those felons will “pay the price” and even if they’re still in jail, “that should not take away their inherent right to vote.”
The Vermont senator — leading in most 2020 presidential polls or neck-and-neck with fellow Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden — was responding to a question from a Harvard student on whether “the Boston Marathon bomber, a convicted terrorist and murderer,” and “those convicted of sexual assault” should still have the right to vote. Sanders said Republicans would probably use his response in a “30-second” ad when asked about giving Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is appealing his life sentence for the bombing that killed three and wounded more than 200 others. In the next hour, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California said, “I think we should have that conversation,” about whether felons like Tsarnaev should be allowed to vote. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, In., was emphatic in his rejection of the idea. “No, I don’t think so,” Buttigieg said, to cheers. He added that when a person is incarcerated, “You lose certain rights, you lose your freedom. During that period it does not make sense to have an exception” for the right to vote. In her own town hall, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), called for the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Harris and Buttigieg agreed.