California Restores Voting Rights to 50,000 Citizens Convicted of Felonies

By Shani Saxon Nov 05, 2020

California residents convicted of a felony but still on parole will now be able to vote in elections.

Voters on Tuesday (November 3) approved Proposition 17, a ballot measure that restores the right to vote to about 50,000 people on parole, The Los Angeles Times reports. The California State Constitution will no longer disqualify people with felony convictions from voting until their parole is completed. Anyone convicted of a felony and still in prison will continue to be disqualified from voting.

An unofficial tally of the vote shows that Proposition 17 was approved by 59 percent of voters, according to The Times. Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), who authored the measure, garnered support from the California Democratic Party and California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president.

“Prop. 17 gives Californians the chance to right a wrong and restore voting rights for a marginalized community and people of color,” McCarty told The Times. “This is good for democracy and good for public safety.”

Reports The Times:

The measure was placed on the ballot by the California Legislature at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement was sparking new discussion of the impact of the criminal justice system on people of color.

Three out of 4 men leaving California prisons are Black, Latino or Asian American, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, a fact the Proposition 17 campaign says is a result of persistent and systematic racial inequalities in the criminal justice system.

Taina Vargas-Edmond, executive chair of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and co-founder and executive director of Initiate Justice, spoke to The Times about Proposition 17’s approval, calling it a “victory for democracy and justice.” 

“For far too long, Black and Brown Californians have been excluded from our democracy,” she added. “Today, California voters definitively righted a historic wrong.”