A DFL state representative revealed during a recent debate on the Minnesota House floor that he supports allowing incarcerated individuals to vote from prison.
“I actually am looking forward to a bill or amendment … that would put Minnesota in line with states like Vermont and Maine that actually allow individuals who are locked up to vote. So I look forward to the day when we have that bill on the floor to debate it,” said Rep. Raymond Dehn (DFL-Minneapolis), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Elections.
The comments were made during a Tuesday debate on the omnibus state government and veterans and military affairs finance bill, a massive spending bill that would draw $1.2 billion from the state’s general fund during the next biennium.
Specifically, the House was debating an amendment put forward by Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) that would have removed language on elections from the omnibus bill. He argued that election measures typically receive their own bill.
“We have one of the most hyper-partisan elections bills you have ever seen,” Nash added.
Dehn’s position that prisoners should be granted the right to vote is supported by some Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Sanders addressed his support for the idea in a recent op-ed for USA Today.
“I have been attacked in recent days by President Trump and others for my conviction that people who are incarcerated should be given the right to vote. I make no apologies for that position. Our country has had a long and shameful history of voter suppression,” Sanders wrote.
Sanders claimed that “this is not a radical idea,” pointing to his home state and countries like Israel and Canada, which “understand that voting rights for all citizens is a basic principle of democracy.”
“If we are serious about calling ourselves a democracy, we must firmly establish that the right to vote is an inalienable and universal principle that applies to all American citizens 18 years and older. Period,” he wrote. “Yes. Even if Trump’s former campaign manager and personal lawyer end up in jail, they should still be able to vote—regardless of who they cast their vote for.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Voting Booths” by Tim Evanson. CC BY-SA 2.0.