Harris on whether felons should vote in prison: 'There has to be serious consequences' for extreme crimes
Posted April 23, 2019 11:11 p.m. EDT
CNN — Sen. Kamala Harris Tuesday didn't definitively say whether she supports felons being able to vote from prison, but she feels "there has to be serious consequence for the most extreme types of crimes."
When asked at a CNN Town Hall on Monday if convicted felons should be allowed to vote while in prison, the Democratic presidential candidate said, "I think we should have that conversation."
Harris was asked to expand on her answer the next day at an event in New Hampshire, and she said it's a "complex issue."
"I'm going think about it and I'm going to talk to experts and I'm going to make a decision and I will let you know," she said.
"We right now have got a lot of work to do with the people in our country who have served their time and have been prohibited from voting," Harris said.
She added, "Currently in our country there are 6 million people who have served their time and are still prohibited from voting, and that has been an area of focus for me for quite some time, and we've got to address that and address that immediately, and so that is one of my first areas of focus and concern."
But Harris said she keeps her history as a prosecutor at the forefront of her mind when considering the idea.
"Do I think that people who commit murder, people who are terrorists, should be deprived of their rights? Yeah, I do," she said. "I'm a prosecutor, I believe that in terms of, there has to be serious consequence for the most extreme types of crimes."
When she was asked specifically if Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should not be allowed to vote while he's in prison, Harris demurred.
"I'm saying that I will weigh in specifically, but that's a value that I bring to it, yeah," she said.
The conversation about whether felons should be allowed to vote while incarcerated kicked into high gear after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about it Monday.
Sanders, also a presidential hopeful, said Monday at a CNN Town Hall that he thinks everyone should have the right to vote.
"This is a democracy and we have got to expand that democracy and I believe every single person does have the right to vote," Sanders said.
Asked if sex offenders, the Boston marathon bomber, terrorists and murderers should be included in that group, Sanders said, "Yes, even for terrible people, because 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."