Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said in Iowa Saturday that felons should not lose their right to vote even if they are still serving their prison sentence. But the Independent legislator weighed in on prison reform during a town hall speech in Muscatine, Iowa, on Saturday.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another 2020 contender, was asked her position on the issue at a candidate forum-which Sanders did not attend-hosted by HuffPost and the Open Markets Institute last weekend.
Iowa is considering opening up voting to convicted felons who have completed their jail terms.More news: Potentially deadly drug-resistant fungus spreading in hospitals, including Florida
O'Rourke says he will avoid using similar rhetoric because "if we descend into that pettiness and meanness and those personal attacks, I'm not sure that we can win".
It is usually considered a cause among Democrats and not among Republicans, though the added aspect of voting from within prison is likely Sanders way of stepping out of the pack in the 2020 field. "That's bad", Sanders said.
Thirteen states and Washington, D.C. now specifically prohibit felons from voting only while incarcerated. "I believe in that, yes, I do". Conviction of a felony results in the indefinite loss of voting rights in 12 states.More news: Trump mocks Rep. Ilhan Omar in speech before Jewish Republican Group
"I know who they are and I know the role that they are playing".
Warren and Sanders have been jockeying for leadership of the Democratic Party's progressive wing, which Sanders was able to electrify in 2016. And although Sanders backed President Bill Clinton and then-senator Joe Biden's 1994 "tough on crime" legislation, he still criticized the mass incarceration elements of the bill while lauding other parts including the Violence Against Women Act. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data from 2013 showed America has the highest incarceration rate in the world.More news: Kodak Black 'sorry' for Nipsey Hussle girlfriend comment