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California Elections 2020: Proposition 17 - Voting After Prison

Created: 06 September, 2020
Updated: 14 August, 2022
3 min read

What is Proposition 17?

Proposition 17 is a constitutional amendment that would allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote in California.[1]

Currently, the California Constitution disqualifies people with felonies from voting until their imprisonment and parole are completed. The ballot measure would amend the state constitution to allow people with felonies who are on parole to vote; therefore, the ballot measure would keep imprisonment as a disqualification for voting but remove parole status.

If approved, Proposition 17 will restore voting rights to people who have been disqualified from voting while serving a prison term. The Proposition will allow for people to vote as soon as they complete a prison term. 

How does California Compare to Other States?

California is one of three states that require persons convicted of felonies to complete their prison and parole sentences before regaining the right to vote.

As of 2020, 19 states allowed people convicted of felonies, but who were on parole, to vote. Seventeen of these states did not allow people to vote while imprisoned. Two—Maine and Vermont—allow people who are imprisoned to vote.

The remaining 28 states had additional disqualifications—compared to California—for people convicted of felonies. Eighteen disqualified people who were imprisoned, on parole, or on probation. Seven prohibited people convicted of certain felonies from ever regaining the right to vote. In Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia, people convicted of felonies never regain the right to vote, although their governors can issue orders to restore voting rights to individuals or groups.

Official Ballot Arguments for Proposition 17

Proposition 17 is simple—it restores a person’s right to vote upon completion of their prison term. When a person completes their prison sentence, they should be encouraged to reenter society and have as take in their community. Restoring their voting rights does that. Civic engagement is connected to lower rates of recidivism. When people feel that they are valued members of their community, they are less likely to return to prison.

19 other states allow people to vote once they have successfully completed their prison sentence. It’s time for California to do the same.

See all the arguments in favor of Proposition 17 here.

Official Ballot Arguments against Proposition 17

Proposition 17 will allow criminals convicted of murder, rape, sexual abuse against children, kidnapping, assault, gang gun crimes and human trafficking to vote before completing their sentence including parole.

Parole is to prove rehabilitation before full liberty, including votings rights, is restored. Offenders released from prison after serving a term for a serious or violent felony are required to complete parole (usually three years) as part of their sentences. Parole is an adjustment period when violent felons prove their desire to adjust to behaving properly in a free society. Their every move is monitored and supervised by a trained state officer. If the state does not trust them to choose where to live or travel, with whom to associate and what jobs to do, it must not trust them with decisions that will impact the lives and finances of all other members of society.

See all the arguments against of Proposition 17 here.

Official Website for Proposition 17

Visit the Official Website for Yes on Proposition 17 here.

Visit the Official Website for No on Proposition 17 here.

Who is Funding Proposition 17?

The Free the Vote CA, Yes on Prop 17 PAC was registered to support the ballot initiative.

Who is Supporting Proposition 17?

Carol Moon Goldberg, president of the League of Women Voters of California 

Jay Jordan, executive director for the Californians for Safety and Justice 

Kevin McCarty, assembly member and author of Proposition 17

Who is Opposing Proposition 17?

Harriet Salarno, founder of the Crime Victims United of California 

Jim Nielsen, state senator 

Ruth Weiss, vice president of Election Integrity Project California

For more information, go to ballotpedia.org

Have an opinion on this ballot measure? Share your thoughts in a written or video commentary! Email it to hoa@ivn.us