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Prison Politics: Felons Could Be California's New Voting Bloc

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Author: Jeff Powers
Created: 01 November, 2017
Updated: 21 November, 2022
1 min read

There's a new initiative circulating for petition signatures that would allow incarcerated felons to vote.

"The Voting Restoration and Democracy Act of 2018," pushed by Taina Vargas-Edmond among others, would empower nearly 200,000 inmates in the California Corrections system to vote.

Vargas-Edmond, acting on behalf of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, wrote the following:

"The Purpose and Intent of the act is to do the following:

1. Uphold the right to vote as fundamental to any democracy;

2. Protect the rights of all U.S. citizens to participate in the democratic process, and;

3. Prohibit the disenfranchisement of voters on the basis that they are imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony."

Big Voting Bloc

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as of October 25, 2017, there are 183,450 inmates currently in the prison system.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla informed supporters they can begin gathering signatures for the November 2018 ballot initiative. 585,407 signatures from registered voters are needed by April 25 to qualify for the ballot.

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Costs for Voting Felons

California estimates the cost to provide ballots to prisoners and parolees to run about a $1 million a year, and counties would be on the hook to pay for the materials.

Currently, to register to vote in California you must be a U.S. citizen and state resident who is 18 years or older on Election Day. Eligible voters cannot be in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony.

This initiative would be a constitutional amendment that would obviously remove that last designation.

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