Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff has been slammed after saying prisoners are “most affected by unjust laws” while endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ idea to allow convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and other violent criminals to vote in elections.
“What's the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote? Shouldn't the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?" Saikat Chakrabarti said on Wednesday.
His comment came in the wake of Sanders’ eyebrow-raising admission earlier this week that he believes felons, including terrorists and those convicted of sexual assault, should have a right to vote.
The comments by the chief of staff of Ocasio-Cortez drew an immediate backlash for the use of words “unjust,” many questioning whether he suggests terrorists or other violent criminals were actual victims.
“Who knew the law against putting a bomb by an 8 year-old (sic) and blowing people up was unjust?” tweeted NRA spokesperson Dana Dana Loesch.
“Yes, because the ONLY people in prison on felony sentences are the victims of unjust laws,” tweeted journalist Nate Madden. “You know, like the ones against rape, murder, kidnapping and terrorism.”
A few hours later, Chakrabarti doubled down in another tweet, this time naming an example of “unjust” laws, yet dismissing the significance of giving voting rights to the Boston marathon bomber.
“Marijuana possession is one law I consider unjust affecting thousands. Are you seriously arguing that one vote from the Boston bomber would be enough to change our terrorism laws?” he asked.
The tweet was ridiculed again for being flippant about terrorists or other violent offenders being given a right to participate in elections.
“‘One vote from the Boston bomber.’ Hard to believe this debate is happening, but it’s only going to get crazier,” National Review editor Rich Lowry tweeted.
“‘We should let convicted terrorists vote because their vote likely won't matter anyways!’ is certainly a take,” seconded another Twitter user.
During a CNN town hall on Monday night, a Harvard student asked Sanders, the leading 2020 candidate, if his position on expanding voting rights to felons in prison would support “enfranchising people” like the Boston Marathon bomber as well as those “convicted of sexual assault,” whose votes could have a “direct impact on women’s rights.”
The Vermont senator argued that the Constitution says “everybody can vote” and went on to declare that “the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people.”
Other Democratic candidates such as Sen. Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke somewhat toyed with the idea as well, with but drew a line at people who committed “extreme types of crimes.”