At his CNN town hall, Harvard student Anne Carlstein asked if his position would support "enfranchising people" like Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who she noted is a "convicted terrorist and murderer," as well as those "convicted of sexual assault," whose votes could have a "direct impact on women's rights."
Sanders replied, saying he wanted a "vibrant democracy" with "higher voter turnout." He blasted "cowardly Republican governors trying to suppress the vote."
"If somebody commits a serious crime- sexual assault, murder, they're gonna be punished. 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," Bernie explained.
"But, I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, 'That guy committed a terrible crime, not gonna let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not gonna let that person vote,' you're running down a slippery slope. So, I believe that people who commit crimes, they pay the price. When they get out of jail, I believe they certainly should have the right the vote, but I do believe that 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."
Then moderator Chris Cuomo pressed further, asking Bernie if he was sure about his answer. Bernie replied,
"This is what I believe. Do you believe in democracy? Do you believe that every single American 18 years of age or older who is an American citizen has the right to vote?" Sanders continued. "This is a democracy. We've got to expand that democracy and I believe that every single person does have the right to vote."
People act like this is a crazy idea. But this is not a black or white idea. Vermont, the state Bernie Sanders represents, and Maine have this policy. And the District of Columbia and eleven states, Hawaii Illinois Indiana Massachusetts Michigan Montana New Hampshire North Dakota Ohio Pennsylvania and Rhode Island allow felons to vote after serving their incarceration sentence. The worst states are Kentucky and Virginia, which prohibit convicted felons from ever voting.
A nd 30 other nations have it, including Israel, Germany and Canada. Bernie made it clear that once you start saying certain people can't vote you are on a slippery slope. That's why he said that all people should be allowed to vote,
In the past, only men, or land-owners or people who were debt free were allowed to vote.
Once you start down the slippery slope you have to think who would be next not to be allowed to vote: non-land-owners non-veterans or non-church-goers, high school dropouts, drug users, non-native born citizens people who have not passed certain test, people on welfare, people who don't pay taxes? All of these could be the next step, many of which have been the case in the past. And I would not put it past the "cowardly governors" Bernie refers to, who routinely try to make it more difficult to vote, including requiring people to get special voter identity cards and using bogus lists to purge eligible voters. Anyone who supports the constitution should support the right to vote for ALL.
Do YOU approve laws that prevent felons from voting? Who would you go after next. Florida voters recently gave the vote to felons who had served their sentences. Now, state legislators want to take the vote away from felons who have debts related to their crimes. That amounts to a poll tax.