Speaking at the CNN Town Hall event earlier this week (22 April), Pete Buttigieg said he would not give prisoners the right to vote.
His position was a break from fellow candidate Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator, who has long advocated voting rights for incarcerated Americans, CNN reported.
It has caused a rift with LGBTI users on Twitter. Many of whom argue queer and trans people make up a large proportion of prison populations.
What did he say?
Considering that Buttigieg’s campaign website is missing a policy section, many took the panel in New Hampshire, New England, as an opportunity to delve deep into the presidential hopeful’s vision.
But Buttigieg said he would not allow prisoners the right to vote. ‘While incarcerated? No, I don’t think so,’ the South Bend mayor said.
‘I do believe that when you are out, when you have served your sentence, part of being restored to society is that you are part of political life of this nation,’ the mayor said.
‘One of the things that needs to be restored is your right to vote.’
However, Buttigieg said that those incarcerated have to forfeit their rights. ‘It does not make sense to have an exception for the right to vote.
LGBTI people’s over-representation in prisons
Buttigieg’s standing proved controversial. Many Twitter users brought up how LGBTI people, particularly queer people of color and on low-incomes, are disproportionately likely to come in contact with the criminal justice system.
One Twitter user said: ‘When Buttigieg responded that prisoners should be denied the right to vote, I couldn’t help but think of the queer and trans people, many of color, who were incarcerated so that he could have the career and the freedom that he has now.’
Another tweeted: ‘Incarcerated people are still American citizens.’
Queer people and the penal system
Significantly, in a 2015 US Transgender Survey, of the 28,000 questioned, 2% had been incarcerated. This is more than double that of the cisgendered people; 0.87%.
— Ali Harb (@Harbpeace) April 23, 2019
Moreover, the incarceration rate was several times higher among trans people of color and low-income respondents.
Furthermore, LGB people are over-represented in prisons. Federal data suggested that LGB people are three times more likely to be imprisoned than non-queer people.
In fact, 85% of incarcerated queer young people are people color.
Who is Pete Buttigieg?
Buttigieg, the openly gay, multilingual mayor, is the upstart the Democrats didn’t see coming.
The 37-year-old has arguably vaulted himself into a large – and growing – field of blue tie-wearing politicians all vying to take on President Donald Trump, 72.
A fan of universal healthcare, universal background checks for firearm purchases, and pro-environment policies that tackle climate change, Buttigieg also wants to abolish capital punishment.