Pete Buttigieg’s blind spots on race are becoming increasingly apparent.
The Indiana mayor, who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election, participated in an hourlong, town hall-style event hosted by CNN on Monday in which he answered policy questions before an audience of young voters, the Associated Press reports.
Asked by host Anderson Cooper whether the government should restore the voting rights of convicted felons, as fellow 2020 hopeful Bernie Sanders had called for during his CNN town hall earlier that day, Buttigieg said that voting rights should not be restored until after a convicted felon leaves prison.
“While incarcerated? No, I don’t think so,” said Buttigieg, who has served as the Mayor of South Bend since 2012. “I do believe that when you are out, when you have served your sentence, then part of being restored to society is that you are part of political life of this nation again, and one of the things that needs to be restored is your right to vote.”
Like pretty much every aspect of the American criminal justice system, felony disenfranchisement disproportionately affects Black Americans and other people of color in the United States. According to the Marshall Project, more than 6 million Americans are unable to vote thanks to various felony disenfranchisement laws in 48 of the 50 states — about 2.2 million of whom are Black. Some states ban prisoners from voting, per the American Civil Liberties Union, while others place restrictions on parolees from voting. Vermont and Maine are the only states where prisoners are able to vote while incarcerated.
So when Buttigieg says that we shouldn’t restore voting rights to prisoners, he’s saying that the nearly half a million Black people who are currently incarcerated in state and federal prisons should not have a say in who makes laws on their behalf. When coupled with his firing of South Bend’s first Black police chief, his “urban renewal” project that tore down 1,000 in Black and Latinx neighborhoods, an “all lives matter” gaffe that recently resurfaced, and the general wariness found by The Root’s Jason Johnson while interviewing the Mayor’s Black constituents, it sure doesn’t look good!