ACA 6: The Free The Vote Act Will Restore Voting Rights in California
Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 6 will amend the California Constitution and Elections Code to make sure that Californians serving a period of parole can fully participate in our democracy by restoring their right to vote.
Join John Legend:
Support ACA 6 and voting rights for formerly incarcerated Californians!
50,000 People on Parole in California CAN’T VOTE
Nearly 50,000 Californians on parole pay taxes at the local, state, and federal levels. However, they are not able to vote at any level of government. This system operates as “taxation without representation,” which is antithetical to the founding of this country.
Our democracy is stronger when it is fair and inclusive. Stripping the right to vote from formerly incarcerated people is a form of voter suppression that is deeply out of step with our values.
Parole is intended to be a period of reintegration into the community. Allowing a person to vote after they have finished their prison sentence increases that person’s feeling of connection to their community.
“No other democracy in the world restricts people with felony convictions from voting for life.”
– Human Rights Watch
Civic Engagement Makes Communities Safer
Civic engagement is connected to lower rates of recidivism. When people feel that they are valued members of their community, and that their needs and concerns are addressed, they are less likely to re-engage in criminal activity.
By giving returning citizens a stake in our democracy, we create safer communities. A 2016 study found that formerly incarcerated people in Florida who had their voting rights restored were less likely to commit crimes in the future.
Video: “If I Could Vote”
by Initiate Justice
162,000 people in California cannot vote because they are in prison or on parole. Hear what Jayda, Hugo, Richard, Adam, James, and Kenneth would vote for if their voting rights were restored.
The Growing Movement for Voting Rights
Last year, both Florida and Louisiana rolled back their bans on voting for formerly incarcerated people. Minnesota introduced legislation this year, with six republican co-authors, to restore the vote to people on probation or parole in that state. In January 2019, Iowa’s governor called for an amendment to that state’s constitution ending lifetime felony disenfranchisement. In December 2018, State Representative Gail Chasey introduced state legislation (HB 57) to end felony disenfranchisement in New Mexico. It’s time for California to reclaim its role as a national leader in progressive and inclusive policy-making.
Representatives in other states are moving to expand voting rights for recently released people. Earlier this year New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to grant conditional pardons restoring voting rights to people on parole. In 2016, then-Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order restoring voting rights to Virginians with felony convictions who had completed their period of supervised release.
Other states have begun to recognize how stripping voting rights from people with criminal records harms the entire community. In 2018, for instance, an overwhelming two-thirds of Florida voters opted to restore voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions.
At a time when our national democratic institutions are under threat, Californians should join the growing movement to free the vote for people on parole.