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Bernie Sanders says prison inmates should be allowed to vote. Conservatives, including two of Trump’s sons, respond.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at an event in Warren, Ohio, earlier this month.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at an event in Warren, Ohio, earlier this month. (David Dermer/AP)
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President Trump’s two eldest sons joined other conservatives Tuesday in criticizing Sen. Bernie Sanders’s assertion in a televised town hall event that prison inmates, including the Boston Marathon bomber, should be allowed to vote.

Sanders (Vt.), among the leading Democratic White House hopefuls, had previously articulated his view that the country should be moving in the direction of allowing people to vote from prison.

During one of five town hall events hosted by CNN on Monday night, Sanders was asked by an audience member whether he favors “enfranchising” people such as Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and those convicted of sexual assault.

Sanders said that people who commit serious crimes should be punished with significant prison sentences, but he suggested that that should be considered separately from taking away their right to vote.

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“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy,” he said. “Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘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. So, I believe that people who commit crimes, they pay the price.”

He continued: “When they get out of jail, I believe they certainly should have the right the vote, but I do believe that even if they are in jail, they’re paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.”

Eric Trump, one of the president’s two eldest sons, weighed in on Twitter Tuesday morning.

“If you thought he was extreme before, take a look at this,” Eric Trump wrote, linking to a Fox News story headlined: “Bernie Sanders says Boston Marathon bomber, sexual assaulters should be allowed to vote.”

Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter as well, asking what it says about “the modern-day Democrat Party” that Sanders and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) “seem more concerned about giving mass murderers like the Boston Marathon Bomber voting rights than protecting the civil rights of law abiding American citizens who legally own guns.”

Harris, another Democratic presidential hopeful, said she was open to Sanders’s idea in a separate town hall event that aired after Sanders’s appearance.

Sanders’s comments prompted a torrent of criticism from conservatives Monday night that continued into Tuesday morning.

Others weighing in included Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who wrote on Twitter: “Coming soon: @KamalaHarris and @BernieSanders launch their ‘Absentee ballots for al Qaeda’ program.”