AUGUSTA – Maine is one of two states doing what Senator Bernie Sanders thinks we should do regarding allowing prisoners to vote, the other is his home state of Vermont.
In a CNN Presidential Town Hall, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont answered a question from a member of the audience saying he felt the United States should allow even murderers, rapists and terrorists, such as the Boston Marathon Bomber, to vote in prison.
shocked a lot of Americans, because in 48 states, incarcerated felons are not
allowed to vote. But in Maine, as in Senator Sanders’ home state of Vermont,
even convicted felons who are serving their sentences in prison are still
allowed to vote.
The Anne Carlstein, a student at Harvard University, asked Senator Sanders, “Senator Sanders, you have said that you believe that people with felony records should be allowed to vote while in prison. Does this mean you would support enfranchising people like the Boston Marathon Bomber, a convicted terrorist and murderer? Do you think that those convicted of sexual assault should have the opportunity to vote for politicians who can have a direct impact on women’s rights?”
Senator Sanders, in response, offered his reasoning for why, yes, even “terrible people” should be allowed to vote, even when they are in prison.
being offered an assist from CNN Town Hall Moderator, clarifying that Sen.
Sanders actually meant that he felt the Boston Marathon Bomber should be
allowed to vote while he was in jail, which Sanders then confirmed.
Some states permanently prohibit convicted felons from being allowed to vote, but most states just prohibit voting during the period of time the individual is incarcerated and then allow voting privileges to be restored when the individual has completed their prison sentence.
however, a prisoner never loses their ability to vote, no matter the crimes
they may have been convicted of.
The only restriction
on voting for those who are incarcerated for committing murder or other serious
crimes is a requirement that anyone incarcerated in a state prison or county
jail must register to vote in the municipality they established residence in
before they were incarcerated, to which they intend to return.
This would appear to protect communities that host a state prison or county jail from having a large group of voters impacting local elections, but also facilitating the alignment of state laws around residency as they relate to keeping the prisoner qualified to vote.