Should incarcerated Americans have right to vote? Presidential candidates facing question


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Should people behind bars have the right to vote?

That’s the question several Democratic presidential candidates are facing.

Right now, only two states, Vermont and Maine, allow incarcerated Americans to vote from behind bars.

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders says prisoners nationwide should also have that option.

“They are paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy,” Sanders said.

Sanders was asked about prisoner voting rights during a televised town hall Monday night.

Ronald Newman with the American Civil Liberties Union says the issue deserves national attention.

“We fundamentally don’t believe stripping our fellow citizens of our fundamental right is good for any of us,” Newman said.

The ACLU says it plans to force candidates to pick sides on this issue, especially in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

But not every presidential hopeful is ready to fully embrace the idea of prisoners voting.

“I think we should have that conversation,” said California Senator Kamala Harris.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is not running in 2020, says he’s firmly against the idea.

“I look forward to hearing his explanation — in South Carolina — why Dylan Roof should be allowed to vote in the upcoming elections,” Graham said in a tweet.

Roof was convicted of killing nine people at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston in 2015.

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