Senator Bernie Sanders’ wants rapists and murderers to vote.  But Americans don’t agree with me.

Collusion? Complaint Says Sanders Violated Federal Election Laws By Hiring Non-American Campaign Advisers

Last week, the Vermont senator was asked to clarify during a CNN town hall if he supports voting rights for people convicted of rape or those like the Boston Marathon bomber.

He said that even “terrible people” should be given permission to vote, saying that it’s a “slippery slope” to disenfranchise any group of people.

“I think that is absolutely the direction we should go,” Sanders said.  “In my state, what we do is separate. You’re paying a price, you committed a crime, you’re in jail. That’s bad,” he said. “But you’re still living in American society and you have a right to vote. I believe in that, yes, I do.”

 

A new INSIDER poll found that 75% of people surveyed don’t agree with Sanders that all prisoners should have voting rights.

The results found that while 35% did say current inmates should be allowed to vote, most said it should only apply to non-violent offenders. 

Of those surveyed, 24% believe those convicted of violent offenses should never be allowed to vote, even after being released from prison.

Another 15% said all prisoners – regardless of their crimes – should be allowed to vote from behind bars. A total of 20% said only voters who are convicted of non-violent offenses should be allowed to vote.

What’s the law say?  It’s currently decided by states whether or not current or former inmates are allowed to vote.

In Sanders’ state of Vermont, felons keep their voting rights regardless of whether they’re incarcerated.

There’s a lifetime voting ban on people convicted of murder or rape in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  In Kentucky and Iowa, anyone with a felony record is blocked from voting for life, unless the governor intervenes.

In the voting survey, another 30% said people currently in prison should lose their right to vote, but be re-enfranchised when they’re released.  Another 24% of those surveyed said those convicted of violent felonies should permanently lose voting rights. 

About 10% of respondents said they “don’t know” how they feel about this issue. 

According to a non-profit called The Sentencing Project, which is focused on criminal justice reform, some 6.1 million people in America have been “forbidden to vote because of felony disenfranchisement, or laws restricting voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes,” according to a 2016 report from the group.

“This is the last major voting bloc that is missing from our democracy,” said Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project.

In the survey, there was a sharp divide in views on this issue along party lines.

Nearly half of likely Democratic primary voters – a total of 47% – support enfranchising prisoners in some capacity.  On the Republican side?  21%.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump, and even some 2020 Democrat contenders for President have attacked the idea.

“Let the Boston bomber vote — he should be voting, right?” Mr. Trump said in a speech to members of the National Rifle Association. “I don’t think so. Let terrorists that are in prison vote, I don’t think so. Can you believe it? But this is where some of these people are coming from,” said President Trump.

In an attempt at relevancy, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat from New York, weighed in.

“Instead of asking, ‘Should the Boston Bomber have the right to vote?,’” she wrote on Twitter, “Try, ‘Should a nonviolent person stopped w/ a dime bag LOSE the right to vote?’”

That question, she wrote, applies to “WAY more people.”

 

Sanders says other countries do it… so America should, too.

On Wednesday, he doubled down on it:

“Every American citizen must be able to vote,” he tweeted. “Period.”

 

Then on Friday, Sanders’ campaign manager responded to the president and vice president:

“If Trump and Pence truly believed in freedom, they would work to make it easier for people to participate in the political process, not harder.”

Currently there are 48 states that allow felons to regain their voting rights after they are released from prison, but it depends on where a person is incarcerated.  For example, some states automatically restore them after release, others do so after parole or probation is completed, and others depend on the crime committed.

Florida became a hot debate state after a November measure restored voting rights to more than 1.4 million people who lost them because of their criminal records.

There are currently about 130 other felon voting rights bills working their way through 30 state legislatures, with at least four states currently considering allowing people presently incarcerated to allow to vote.