Voting rights

Bernie Sanders says felons should be allowed to vote while in prison

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at a town hall meeting Saturday in Muscatine, Iowa.
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on the campaign trail in Iowa that people convicted of felonies should "absolutely" be able to vote while behind bars, calling on more states to join Vermont and Maine in allowing the practice, the Des Moines Register reports.

"In my state, what we do is separate. You’re paying a price, you committed a crime, you’re in jail. That's bad. But you’re still living in American society and you have a right to vote. I believe in that, yes, I do."

The big picture: Sanders is the first 2020 candidate to publicly support this idea. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently endorsed enfranchising felons who have completed their sentence, but stopped short of saying they should be allowed to vote while in prison. Currently, Iowa and Kentucky are the only remaining states that impose lifetime voting bans for people with felony records unless the governor individually restores their rights.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

ACLU to spend $30M on 2020 campaign

Demonstrators gather in Lafayette Square during a demonstration organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (
Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to spend $30 million as part of a 2020 issues-based campaign seeking commitments from presidential candidates, the HuffPost reports.

Details: The campaign, dubbed "Rights for All," was launched on Sunday and will use the liberal-leaning group's thousands of members to target early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to pressure the candidates on issues concerning civil liberties. Its platform includes cutting the federal prison population in half, restoring voting rights to incarcerated people, providing a path to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and reducing immigration detention.