"This is a democracy and we have got to expand that democracy, and I believe every single person does have the right to vote."
Senator Bernie Sandrs told CNN on Monday that he wants to give prisoners in the U.S. corrections system the opportunity to vote in the upcoming presidential elections in 2020.
During a CNN Town Hall discussion at St. Anselm College, New Hampshire, Sanders said he thinks U.S. citizens that are prisoners should be allowed to vote even during their time in prison, not after they are released.
The U.S. presidential hopeful said, "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 justified his argument by citing the low voter turnout in the last election, adding that allowing incarcerated citizens the right to vote will help build a 'vibrant' democracy with much more civil engagement.
"I believe people commit crimes and they paid the price and they have the right to vote. I believe even if they're in jail they're paying their price to society but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy," Sander stated.
The Senator from Vermont argued that the right to vote should be granted to all inmates, even those convicted for particularly horrible deeds, such as terrorism, murder and sexual assault. He pointed to the case of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who helped bomb the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others, as an example.
"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," Sanders said, answering a student's question.
Contrasting Sanders, newcomer Pete Buttigieg rejected the idea. "No," he said, when asked about felons' right vote idea. "I do believe that when you are, when you have served your sentence, then part of being restored to society is that you are part of the political life of this nation again and one of the things that needs to be restored is your right to vote."
Both Buttigieg and Sanders are slated to run for the Democratic ticket in the upcoming elections in 2020.