More than 40,000 parolees will head to the ballot box in the future. California voters approve the Free the Vote Act this November.
The right to vote is an integral part of this democratic process in America, but there is a portion of Californians who are unable to have their voices heard at the ballot box, making Prop.17 a priority bill of the California Legislative Black Caucus, the Oakland Post reported.
Seeking fundamental fairness for disenfranchised persons, ACA 6, now Proposition 17, was introduced by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the ACLU, and Initiate Justice, an advocacy group focused on ending mass incarceration.
“This bill says once you have paid your debt to society and have returned to society to work and pay taxes and contribute, that you should also have the right to voice your opinion about your elected representative,” said Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles).
Proposition 17, which passed both the Senate and the Assembly as a constitutional amendment (ACA 6) would allow the state’s currently disenfranchised minorities the opportunity of having their voices heard during any elections while on parole.
California has long held that parolees forfeited the right to vote as long as they are under the supervision of the parole department—with the exception of persons on probation, county Post-Release Community
Supervision and federal supervised release.
Supporters of the bill have argued that by not allowing parolees the freedom to vote, there remains an imbalance in our justice system aimed primarily at California’s Black and Brown communities.
“People of color have been systematically locked out of the ballot box in
California for years,” said Brittany Stonesifer, Voting Rights Attorney at the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California. Adding, “We applaud
lawmakers advancing racial justice and strengthening our democracy with
ACA 6. Voters in November will finally have the opportunity to end this
ballot box discrimination.”
Proposition 17 passed on Nov. 3, 2020 allowing formerly incarcerated
citizens the right to vote.