Vote YES on Prop 17!
Our democracy is rooted in the idea that everyone’s voice matters. Promoting civic engagement not only make our country stronger; it also makes it safer. There is now scientific evidence that shows when people feel they are valued members of their community and that their needs and concerns are being addressed, they are less likely to re-engage in criminal activity. 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: recidivism rates dropped to 0.4% versus 30% overall. With this information, Florida voters overwhelmingly chose to restore the voting rights of 1.4 Floridians, with two-thirds of the population voting in support.
Today, felony disenfranchisement laws continue to disproportionately block people of color out of the voting booth. Because of persistent and systematic racial inequalities in our criminal leg system, African Americans are four times as likely to experience felony disenfranchisement as are white Americans. Three out of Four men leaving California prisons are Black, Latino, or Asian-American.
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights of citizenship. Laws that declare people coming home from prison “civically dead” unfairly strip these individuals of their full citizenship and run counter to the purpose of the reentry period. Parole is intended to be a process of reintegration into society after prison and allowing people on parole to vote is a critical way to give them a stake in their communities.
California currently lags behind fourteen other states and Washington D.C. which either automatically restore voting rights upon release from prison or have no felony disenfranchisement whatsoever. National momentum is also growing to restore voting rights to people with convictions in other states. New York, Virginia, Louisiana, and Florida have all rolled back their bans on voting for formerly incarcerated people and several other states have introduced legislation this year.
The totality of these arguments has not only garnered support for a constitutional amendment ending felony disenfranchisement in California from a broad coalition of civil rights and criminal justice groups. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has also supported this crucial change.
Democracy is stronger when it is fair and inclusive and Proposition 17 will ensure everyone’s voices are heard in California elections.