In a series of tweets Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez said that in order to avoid looking "utterly out of touch," people should question whether a non-violent criminal should lose the right to vote.
Her comments furthered an already brewing debate that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., started when he indicated that he would support all felons — including sexual assaulters and murderers like Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — receiving the right to vote.
For Ocasio-Cortez, critics should have been more concerned about a "nonviolent person stopped [with] a dime bag," a reference to a small bag of illicit drugs.
She went on to suggest the U.S. prison system was unjust, pointing to slavery and international incarceration rates.
The New York Congresswoman portrayed mass incarceration as ultimately stemming from slavery in the United States.
"Black Americans & [people of color] are far more likely to be convicted + sentenced longer than White Americans for similar crimes," she tweeted.
Apparently annoyed by the responses on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez knocked pundits whom she felt were like "1st graders" commenting on her tweets.
"GOP already bad-faith attacking 'nonviolent offenses.' Clearly if you are looking at CONTEXT CLUES in my thread & limits of 280 chars you know I’m referring to nonviolent drug offenses," she tweeted.
Her chief of staff also received backlash after his Wednesday tweet which implied prisoners were "most affected by unjust laws."
"What's the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote?" he asked. "Shouldn't the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?"
Although Sanders, somewhat of a progressive icon, has endorsed voting rights for prisoners, other 2020 hopefuls seemed more hesitant. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was ranked among the top three candidates in a poll this month, said that while he supported restoring felons' voting rights, he didn't think they should receive that right while incarcerated.