Hot Takes abound
April 24, 2019

It all started with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

During his CNN Town Hall on Tuesday, the top tier 2020 contender made it very clear that he believes every convicted felon should be able to vote from prison — the Boston Marathon bomber included. No other Democrat has come out with support quite as strong as Sanders', though in subsequent town halls and statements, they've started to drift to his side.

After Sanders stole the show at his CNN town hall, it was Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) turn. She took a lighter approach, saying she "think[s] we should have that conversation," but later clarified that she "think[s] that people who commit murder, people who are terrorists, should be deprived of their rights." Pete Buttigieg, the rising star mayor of South Bend, Indiana, delivered a resounding "no" on voting from prison, though said that "when you have served your sentence," getting to vote again is "part of being restored to society."

It took a few days, but former Texas congressmember Beto O'Rourke tentatively said he'd back voting rights for "nonviolent offenders" in a statement Wednesday. Still, he strongly hinted he didn't feel the same when it came to "violent criminals." Both Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have publicly touted their commitment to restoring voting rights for convicted felons, but haven't touched on whether that applies to criminals still in prison.

Republicans have quickly and roundly torn Sanders' stance apart, but even left-leaning CNN commentators Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon seemed a little stunned by it. That could be why so far, no other Democrat has gone so far as to match Sanders' very strong feelings. Kathryn Krawczyk

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