Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Prisoner Voting: 'Should a Nonviolent Person Stopped With a Dime Bag Lose the Right to Vote?'

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in on the debate about whether those in prison for felony crimes should be allowed to vote by suggesting opponents ask themselves a few questions to avoid looking "completely and utterly out of touch."

The congresswoman, who represents New York's 14th Congressional District, posted a series of tweets in response to the discussion stemming from comments made by 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

During a CNN Town Hall, Sanders said he supported voting rights for all U.S. citizens, even extending them to "terrible people" serving time for murder, sexual offenses and bombings.

"Because once you start chipping away and you say, 'Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,' you're running down a slippery slope," Sanders said when asked directly about Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

"I believe people commit crimes and they paid the price and they have the right to vote. I believe even if they're in jail they're paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy."

Vermont, the state Sanders represents, and Maine are the only U.S. states that allow prisoners to vote.

Ocasio-Cortez argued that people should consider how the prison system is unjust to minorities when discussing taking away their voting rights.

"To avoid looking completely + utterly out of touch w/ the reality our prison system: Instead of asking, 'Should the Boston Bomber have the right to vote?' Try, 'Should a nonviolent person stopped w/ a dime bag LOSE the right to vote?' Bc that question reflects WAY more people," she tweeted.

"Black Americans & PoC are far more likely to be convicted + sentenced longer than White Americans for similar crimes. Our system routinely criminalizes poverty + exonerates wealth.

"We 'shouldn't' incarcerate for nonviolent offenses, we 'shouldn't' have school-to-prison pipelines, we 'shouldn't' sentence POC more than white people for similar crimes...but we do. We're so eager to talk about punishment, but correcting our injustices is 'controversial,'" said Ocasio-Cortez.

One of those who disagrees with Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez is Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. "You are in prison for a felony, you are paying your debt to society," he told CNN's New Day.

"I don't think you should have the right to vote and participate as a full citizen. Once you pay your debt to society, you're out, you're on parole in this state, you've been assimilated back into society, fine. Then you have a right to vote. But I totally disagree with Bernie Sanders."

During her own CNN Town Hall, Kamala Harris, another 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said the conversation on whether incarcerated felons should have the right to vote was worth having.

"I agree that the right to vote is one of the very important components of citizenship," Harris said. "And it is something that people should not be stripped of needlessly, which is why I have long been an advocate of making sure people formerly incarcerated are not denied the right to vote."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on stage during the 2019 Athena Film Festival closing night film, "Knock Down the House" at the Diana Center at Barnard College on March 3, 2019 in New York City. The congresswoman voiced her support for giving incarcerated felons the right to vote. Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Athena Film Festival
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Prisoner Voting: 'Should a Nonviolent Person Stopped With a Dime Bag Lose the Right to Vote?' | U.S.