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Buttigieg on whether felons should be able to vote from prison: 'I don't think so'

Buttigieg on whether felons should be able to vote from prison: 'I don't think so'
© Greg Nash

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE said Monday that he does not believe that felons should be able to vote while incarcerated, breaking from a position taken earlier by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Democratic senators press PhRMA over COVID-19 lobbying efforts  MORE (I-Vt.).

Asked at a CNN town hall whether felons doing prison time, like the man convicted of carrying out a bombing during the 2013 Boston Marathon, should be able to vote, Buttigieg was quick to respond.

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“No, I don’t think so,” he said, eliciting cheers from the audience.

“Enfranchisement upon release is important, but part of the punishment … is you lose certain rights,” Buttigieg added. “You lose your freedom. And I don’t think during that time it makes sense to have that exception.”

Buttigieg’s remarks came shortly after Sanders said at an earlier CNN town hall appearance that felons, including those convicted on terrorism-related charges, should retain their right to vote while in prison.

“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy," Sanders said. "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.”

Sanders warned that disenfranchising some voters creates a slippery slope in which it becomes easier to erode voting rights more broadly.

"Once you start chipping away at that ... that’s what our Republican governors all over this country are doing,” he said. “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.”

Another Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' Biden's plan for Central American kids is no substitute for asylum State Department bans Guatemalan lawmaker from entering US MORE (D-Calif.), did not endorse Sanders’s proposal on felon voting, but said that “we should have that conversation.”

"I agree that the right to vote is one of the very important components of citizenship. And it is something that people should not be stripped of needlessly, which is why I have been a long been an advocate of making sure people formally incarcerated are not denied the right to vote," she said. "In some states they're permanently deprived of the right to vote."