Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk lied on Thursday about H.R. 1, the comprehensive voting rights and election reform bill passed this week in the House of Representatives, falsely claiming on his radio show that it would allow convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to vote while he is currently serving a life sentence in a federal Supermax prison.
The actual text of the bill makes clear that the restoration of voting rights for felons would not apply when a person is still “serving a felony sentence in a correctional institution or facility at the time of the election.”
This is already the law in 18 states, including red states such as Indiana and Utah, in which felons are unable to vote while in prison but then automatically regain their rights upon release. In another set of states, convicted felons are still disenfranchised during parole and/or probation but regain their rights upon the full completion of that period, though they might also still have to pay outstanding fines and other fees.
A number of states indefinitely disenfranchise convicted felons, which H.R. 1 aims to overturn as a legacy of the Jim Crow era, explaining “that current racial disparities in felony disenfranchisement are linked to this history of voter suppression, structural racism in the criminal justice system, and ongoing effects of historical discrimination.”
Kirk, however, claimed on his show Thursday: “And they should really rename this bill, to the ‘Boston Bomber Bill.’ Because this bill would allow the Boston Bomber to have a right to vote.”
Kirk then went on to claim that he was “not necessarily morally opposed to restoring the right to vote” for convicted felons who had “paid [their] debt to society” — even though that is what H.R. 1 sets out to do.
“But if you are currently in prison, I am completely opposed to restoring current prisoners' right to vote,” Kirk said, later repeating that “this bill would say that the Boston Bomber should be allowed to vote.”
Again, to be clear, H.R. 1 does not restore voting rights for people currently in prison.