I recently posted about the huge step forward with the passing of Proposition 17 in 2020 that amended California's state constitution by allowing formerly incarcerated persons and their family members to be restored as rightful voting citizens. The ballot measure was approved by 60% of California voters and affects some 50,000 people on parole, restoring the right to vote to those who were stripped of their voting rights during the Jim Crow-era.
While these achievements are historic more needs to be done. Voting rights officials must take proactive measures to help those released from prison to be able to participate in our democratic system.
California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO), county and city jails and county probations departments should be designated as voter registration agencies, allowing eligible voters within those systems to be assisted with voter registration forms and to accept the completed forms.
All 58 California counties have updated their websites to include voter forms and other election materials that explain voter eligibility. Under an additional law, SB 504, the CDCR is required to give the Secretary of State weekly reports about who is in prison for a felony and who has been released from prison. Even though most individuals in California jails are eligible to vote, many do not know it or exercise their legal right to vote. As a result, during election season, people are disenfranchised for the sole reason that they are in jail.
For community advocates and others looking to find voting guidance for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated check out LetMeVoteCA.org/toolkit.