At a CNN town hall, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he did not believe felons should have the right to vote while incarcerated.

“Part of the punishment when you are convicted of a crime and incarcerated is you lose certain rights, you lose your freedom,” Buttigieg said. ”During that period, it doesn't make sense to have an exception for the right to vote.”

The question from Anderson Cooper came after Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also running for the Democratic nomination, said he would support the ability of convicted felons to vote while incarcerated.

“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away, you're running down a slippery slope," Sanders said during his town hall earlier in the evening. "I believe even if they are in jail, they're paying the price to society, that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy."


While not making the same commitment as Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said such a conversation should be had.

Though he disagreed with Sanders on the voting rights, Buttigieg did agree with pushes from multiple states to reinstate voting rights after a prison sentence was served.

"I do believe that when you are out — when you have served your sentence — part of being restored to society is that you are part of the political life of this nation," Buttigieg said. "And one of the things that needs to be restored is your right to vote."

Buttigieg said one reason for the opposing of the reinstatement of these rights could be because “one side of the aisle noticing they politically benefit from that.”

Black men are six times more likely than white men to be incarcerated, according to The Sentencing Project, and an overwhelming percentage of the black vote goes to the Democratic party.

"That has some racial layers too,” Buttigieg said. “That’s one of many reasons I believe that re-enfranchisement upon release is important.”

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