Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on Wednesday at the “She the People” event in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday that allowing convicted criminals, including felons, to vote is the same civil rights issue as allowing women and blacks to cast a ballot in United States elections.

“I was criticized rather strongly because I said that when we talk about the right to vote that right should exist for people who are currently in jail,” Sanders said to applause from the people attending the event.

“And I was told this was a terrible idea despite the fact that in Canada and in countries all over the world — why did I say that?” Sanders said. “I said that because the right to vote is essential. If you are a citizen, you have the right to vote.”

Then Sanders compared that right to voting rights connection to race and gender.

“And that is a right we must protect because we know the history of this country. We know that women didn’t have the right to vote,” Sanders said. “We know that African Americans didn’t have the rights to vote.”

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