UPDATED 6:17 AM PT — Friday, June 7, 2019
The country’s capital might join nearby states in granting prisoners the right to vote. Earlier this week, Democrats in Washington, D.C. introduced a bill which would enfranchise those who are serving time.
According to reports, D.C. currently allows prisoners awaiting a trial and those imprisoned for minor offenses to vote with absentee ballots.
City officials have not clarified if the measure will allow violent criminals to vote from prison, though many argue even those convicted of non-violent crimes should not be given voting rights.
“What are you going to do about somebody who commits election fraud or voter fraud?” asked Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow for the Heritage Foundation. “That’s non-violent, should they have the right to vote?”
The push for prisoner suffrage comes after Senator Bernie Sanders called for lawmakers to join Vermont in allowing incarcerated individuals to vote. The presidential candidate’s stance has been widely criticized after he advocated for voting rights for terrorists like the ‘Boston bomber.’
“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy,”said Sanders. “Yes, even for terrible people because once you start chipping away and you say ‘well I that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote’…you’re running down a slippery slope.”
Even fellow Democrat candidates like Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Kamala Harris were not in complete agreement with the controversial idea.
A poll conducted last month revealed 69-percent of Americans surveyed believe incarcerated felons should not be given the right to vote. Washington, D.C. residents have protested the measure, and expressed their concerns for the bill.