Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFilibuster becomes new litmus test for Democrats Gallego says he's been approached about challenging Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (I-Vt.) argued Monday that all prisoners, including domestic terrorists such as the Boston Marathon bomber, should have the right to vote while they are incarcerated.
Speaking at a CNN town hall, Sanders was asked if he believes the right to vote should extend to serious criminals, such as Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is in prison and has been sentenced to death.
“If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they’re going to be punished,” Sanders said. “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."
"But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy," he continued. "Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away ... you’re running down a slippery slope. ... 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.”
Earlier this month, Sanders called for more states to join Vermont and Maine in allowing imprisoned felons to vote.
After the senator's comments on Monday, CNN host Chris Cuomo told Sanders he might be writing an opposition ad against himself by arguing that the Boston Marathon bomber should be able to vote from jail.
“I have written many 30-second opposition ads throughout my life. This will be just another one,” Sanders said. “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?"
"Once you start chipping away at that ... that’s what our Republican governors all over this country are doing. They come up with all kinds of excuses why people of color, young people, poor people can’t vote. And I will do everything I can to resist that," he added.