Who in California currently has the right to vote?
Eligible voters are citizens of the United States, 18 years of age or older as of Election Day.
But, what if you’ve been arrested or have a conviction?
“Many Californians mistakenly believe a criminal conviction keeps them from voting. Politicians bet on that fact to win elections,” according to the Americans Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
So, let’s set the record straight. You are eligible to vote if you:
Are awaiting trial or are on trial for any crime;
Are in jail for a misdemeanor;
Are serving a county jail sentence under Realignment (AB 109);
Are on probation, even if you are in jail as a condition of your probation;
Are awaiting a judge’s decision on a probation violation;
Are completing your mandatory supervision or post-release community supervision;
Have completed parole;
Are a person with a juvenile wardship adjudication.
In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2466, known as “The Voting Rights Clarification.”
The bill granted “more than 50,000 people under mandatory and post-release community supervision” the right to vote, according to the ACLU.
Under the new law, anyone convicted of a felony, who is not currently in state or federal prison or on parole, is allowed to vote.
The only time you cannot vote while in county jail is if you are awaiting transfer to state or federal prison; in jail for a parole violation or serving a state prison sentence under contract with a county jail; or you are currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court.
In order to vote from jail, a voter registration form must be requested, completed, filled out, and an application to vote-by-mail must be requested from jail staff or from a county clerk. Once submitted, your county election official will process and mail you a Voter Notification Card, and you will receive a vote-by-mail ballot in the mail prior to the next election.
You may register to vote if you are 18 or over and if you are a juvenile court commitment (not an adult court conviction), to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Counselors could answer any questions.
The ability to vote is restored once a sentence is completed.
Online voter registration is at http://registertovote.ca.gov/ or print the voter registration form and send it in by mail. You can also register at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when you are signing up for a driver’s license or ID card. According to the DMV, “the deadline to register [to vote] is by 11:59:59 on the 15th day before the Election Day.”
The next election in California will be held on Nov. 6.
If you are eligible and haven’t already registered to vote please do! Encourage family members and friends to register and vote too. There are a number of criminal justice reform bills on the ballot that directly affect you and your family.
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights can be reached at 1970 Broadway, Suite 1125, Oakland, CA 94612.