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 ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal 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 SandersJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal 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 Devi HarrisJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal Women who inspired 'Hidden Figures' film will be honored with congressional gold medals 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."