Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Saturday that convicted felons should have the ability to vote even while they are still serving out their terms in prison.
"I think that is absolutely the direction we should go," the 2020 candidate for president said in a response to a question on the subject while at a town meeting in Muscatine, Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register.
"In my state, what we do is separate," Sanders said of Vermont, which allows inmates to vote from prison. "You’re paying a price, you committed a crime, you’re in jail. That's bad. But you’re still living in American society and you have a right to vote. I believe in that, yes, I do.”
While restoring the right of felons to vote has been a popular cause among the political Left in recent years, most efforts to do this have emphasized restoring the right once the criminal has served out their sentence and is no longer in jail. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took that position at an Iowa event last week.
Voting rights for those convicted of crimes vary from state to state. Restoring voting rights to felons is widely assumed to benefit left-leaning candidates, though the evidence to back that theory is largely non-existent.
Sanders has roughly 21.8% support, putting him in second place, behind former Vice President Joe Biden, among a crowded field of candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, according to RealClearPolitics' average of polls.
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