A new INSIDER poll finds that 75 percent of Americans oppose Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposal to enfranchise all U.S. prisoners. Although Sanders has no concrete plan to do so — it’s unclear whether how a plan could even come from the federal government, as it is generally handled as a state issue — his proposal has spurred much debate.
None of his rivals are willing to go as far as Sanders — and the states of Vermont and Maine, who allow all prisoners to vote. But a few of them have offered the idea of letting some non-violent prisoners vote.
Fifteen percent of people in the poll said all prisoners should be allowed to vote while twenty percent said those convicted of non-violent offenses should be able to vote.
All of this suggests the messaging on the topic is an uphill battle. There is a need to de-fang the issue, instead of just being chauvinistic about it — as if it’s just obvious that prisoners should be able to vote and anyone who disagrees is out of their mind.
One thing I haven’t seen from camp Sanders is promotion of the reality that even under relatively conservative Republican governments in Maine and Vermont, prisoners have had and continue to have the right to vote. Just take it from the
Mike Donohue, a spokesman for the Vermont Republican Party.”The last thing we want to do is start putting up insurmountable barriers to participation in civic life because someone may have been convicted of a crime,” he said, defending the rights of Vermont prisoners to vote. “People’s right to vote is sacred.”