The Vermont senator raised eyebrows last month after he said that convicted felons in prison, including the Boston marathon bomber, should have a right to participate in American elections.
Despite the condemnation and mockery of such proposal, Sanders doubled down on the proposal on CNN on Tuesday, saying all American citizens “have the right to vote.”
“At a time when the Republican Party and Donald Trump are working overtime to suppress the vote, to make it harder for people of color and poor people, young people to vote, we have got to make it clear, in my view, that if you are an American citizen, even if you do something terrible, even if you’re a bad person, we cannot take away your right to vote whether you’re in jail or whether you’ve left jail,” he said.
“... if you are an American citizen, even if you do something terrible, even if you’re a bad person, we cannot take away your right to vote whether you’re in jail or whether you’ve left jail.”
“Clearly, what Republicans are doing is trying to deny people of color the right to vote and this is an issue I think we have to address head-on.”
Sanders remained unabated even when pointed out that other 2020 presidential candidates, such as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke or Sen. Cory Booker, have criticized his proposal.
Booker recently criticized Sanders put the emphasis on people already in prison, saying that he’s working to change the system of mass incarceration “so that we don’t even have to have the debate about people’s voting rights because they’re not going to prison in the first place,"
“If Bernie Sanders wants to get involved in a conversation about whether Dylann Roof and the [Boston] Marathon bomber should have the right to vote, my focus is liberating black and brown people and low-income people from prison," Booker told PBS.
But Sanders said that Democrats used to always dismiss his proposals as too radical before they full embrace them, suggesting this issue will soon become part of the mainstream among the Democrats.
“Four years ago people disagreed with me for Medicare-for-all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, criminal justice reform and spending a trillion dollars on rebuilding our infrastructure,” he said. “People disagreed with me, they’ll disagree with me now.”
“If you’re a citizen of this country, you have the right to vote and I will oppose all efforts to try to deny Americans the right to participate in our democracy.”