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Sanders Attacks Trump, GOP While Arguing For Incarcerated Voting Rights: They Want to ‘Suppress the Vote’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) doubled down on his proposal to allow felons to vote while incarcerated, saying on CNN today that all American citizens “have the right to vote.”

“I think we should do what Canada does, what Israel does, what many countries around the world do, and that is to separate,” the Democratic presidential candidate told CNN host Brooke Baldwin. “If somebody commits a serious crime, they’re going to go to jail, and if they are violent people, they may spend the rest of their lives in jail. That is the way it is. You pay a price when you commit a crime.”

He continued:

“But this is what I believe. At a time when the Republican Party and Donald Trump are working overtime to suppress the vote, to make it harder for people of color and poor people, young people to vote, we have got to make it clear, in my view, that if you are an American citizen, even if you do something terrible, even if you’re a bad person, we cannot take away your right to vote whether you’re in jail or whether you’ve left jail. Clearly, what Republicans are doing is trying to deny people of color the right to vote and this is an issue I think we have to address head-on.”

Baldwin responded by noting that even his 2020 Democratic rival Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) opposes letting felons vote — he described Sanders’ policy idea as “Dylann Roof and the marathon bomber should have the right to vote” — but the Vermont lawmaker argued that his 2016 policy proposals were seen as radical but the party has since followed his lead.

“Four years ago people disagreed on me for Medicare for All, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, criminal justice reform and spending a trillion dollars on rebuilding our infrastructure,” he said. “People disagreed with me, they’ll disagree with me now.”

“If you’re a citizen of this country, you have the right to vote and I will oppose all efforts to try to deny Americans the right to participate in our democracy,” Sanders concluded.

In an op-ed for USA Today published Tuesday, Sanders wrote that voter suppression “is taking place all across the country” and has acted to disenfranchise people of color, which he described as a violation of basic human rights.

“We must make it clear that casting a ballot for American citizens is not a privilege,” he wrote. “It is a right. If you’re an American citizen who is 18 years or older you must be able to vote, whether you’re in jail or not.”

Watch above, via CNN.

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Caleb Ecarma is a reporter at Mediaite. Email him here: caleb@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter here: @calebecarma