Bernie Sanders says inmates deserve right to vote, 'The View' weighs in

Even "terrible people" in prison deserve to vote, Sanders said at town hall.

April 23, 2019, 3:54 PM

On Tuesday morning, "The View" co-hosts analyzed the controversial comments Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., made on restoring voting rights to incarcerated felons, like the Boston Marathon bomber, during his town hall.

Five Democratic presidential candidates took part in hour-long back-to-back town halls over five hours on CNN Monday night. In addition to Sanders, Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Peter Buttigieg, were the candidates who participated in the question-and-answer session.

PHOTO: Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in a FOX News Town Hall at SteelStacks, April 15, 2019, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in a FOX News Town Hall at SteelStacks, April 15, 2019, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Mark Makela/Getty Images, FILE

During the town hall, Sanders was faced with a question focused on restoring rights to convicted terrorists and sex offenders.

"I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy," Sanders responded, when asked whether or not felons currently behind bars should be allowed to vote. "Yes, even for terrible people."

"Once you start chipping away and you say, 'Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,' you're running down a slippery slope," Sanders added.

On "The View," Joy Behar agreed with Sanders on resolving inmates' voting rights based on the level of their crime, saying it's not "practical" to decide who does and doesn't get to vote while in jail. "Either you have to get everybody to do it or nobody."

Noting that voting rights are really a state issue, co-host Sunny Hostin said her main concern regarding vote restoration for inmates is that "the laws of our country are disproportionately applied to people of color. And so there's real disenfranchisement of the African American vote, the Latino vote, so you'r talking about 6.1 million African Americans that the vote is taken away from every single year."

Whoopi Goldberg added, "if you've done your time, you have – we hope – been reformed, you've been changed, you've been grown. If they let him out, that means they feel his time is up, and he gets to become the American citizen again."

During Sanders' town hall, he recognized his stance on voting right would likely receive backlash, and it "will be just another" opposition ad in his life.

Speaking out directly on the idea of terrorists like the Boston Marathon bomber receiving the right to vote while serving time, Meghan McCain called the idea "disgraceful."

McCain added that "it is not hard to put lines between terrorists and people who commit low level crimes."

"It doesn't sound good," Behar observed about Sanders' comments. "It'll be used in a campaign ad against him."

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