Saikat Chakrabarti, chief of staff for New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wants to know why people are so opposed to letting convicted felons vote, claiming they are “the people most affected by unjust laws.”
The comment stems from an argument that generated during a CNN town hall on Monday, in which Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he believes that sexual predators and terrorists, as bad as they are, still have a right to vote.
Sanders was asked specifically about Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev being allowed to submit an absentee ballot from his prison cell, to which he responded in stunning fashion, “the right to vote is inherent to our democracy … even for terrible people.”
Chakrabarti, rather than distancing himself from such an extreme platform, posed a question to his followers on social media, essentially asking what good reason is there to not let felons vote.
What’s the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote? Shouldn’t the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?
— Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) April 24, 2019
Why Not? Here’s Why Not
First, is it really necessary to explain to normal-thinking people why the Boston Marathon bomber shouldn’t be allowed to vote? Or murderers? Or rapists?
Second, making the assumption that most people are in jail because of “unjust laws” is a thoroughly disgusting view of the law enforcement system in this country. Yes, some people are in jail for minor infractions, and some unjustly. But we’re talking about felons here and restoring voting rights to the worst of the worst just because there are some anomalies in the justice system is an absurd notion.
Third, as Hans A. von Spakovsky stated in a column almost exactly one year ago, “If you’re not willing to follow the law, then you should not have a role in making the law for everyone else.”
This is @AOC‘s Chief of Staff. He just came out in favor of letting Dylann Roof and Tamerlan Tsarnaev vote. And if he supports something, she supports it. Next they’ll be supporting Harvey Weinstein hosting Democratic Party fundraisers in his cell, because why not? https://t.co/H53QM6XdlF
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) April 24, 2019
Is He Concerned About His Own Vote?
Perhaps Chakrabarti is making a preemptive argument for his own right to vote, or the right to vote for his boss?
In March, a non-profit group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti illegally funneled nearly $1 million in campaign contributions to privately owned companies.
The complaint led Former FEC commissioner Brad Smith to suggest that the duo could face serious penalties for their actions.
“If this were determined to be knowing and willful, they could be facing jail time,” Smith alleged. “Even if it’s not knowing and willful, it would be a clear civil violation of the act, which would require disgorgement of the contributions and civil penalties.”
“I think they’ve got some real issues here,” he added.
Hell, if Bernie wins in 2020 and Chakrabarti ends up in jail, at least he’ll be able to cast his vote in 2024. Just like the Boston Marathon bomber.