Home>Articles>Bill To Restore Voting For Prisoners Meets Heavy Opposition In Assembly

Assemblyman Isaac Bryan (Photo:Isaacbryanforca)

Bill To Restore Voting For Prisoners Meets Heavy Opposition In Assembly

‘Prisons should be about rehabilitation, and in California, once you are released, you get to vote again’

By Evan Symon, February 9, 2023 6:20 am

Law enforcement members and legislators from both parties have come out in opposition to a new bill this week that would allow prisoners to vote in elections.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4, by Assemblyman Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles), was introduced to the Assembly on Monday. ACA 4, which would “repeal that requirement regarding the disqualification of electors incarcerated for felony convictions, thereby authorizing an otherwise qualified elector serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony to vote,” had been authored by Bryan as a way to allow everyone to have their voices heard and have voting be a right for every citizen.

“Democracy thrives when everybody has a chance to have their voice heard,” said Bryan in a tweet on Tuesday. “As the Chair of the California State Assembly Elections Committee I didn’t just feel like introducing this ACA was the right thing to do- but an absolute responsibility.

Bryan also noted that, in addition to many countries following that practice, two states, Maine and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia allow that.

Opposition against ACA 4 grows

While some fellow Democrats and prison reform advocates praised ACA 4 this week, many more have come out against it. Republicans and some Democrats in the Assembly quickly came out against the bill, with Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), the committee’s Vice Chair, writing a statement of opposition.

Assemblymember Tom Lackey. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

“Criminal acts should have consequences. Voting is a sacred privilege, not an absolute right of citizenship,” said Lackey on Wednesday. “The perpetrator is automatically given a blanket of forgiveness. Criminal conduct deserves a price to be paid.”

While no Democrats had come publicly forward this week, indications that many, especially those from more rural districts, swing districts, and districts with high rates of crime, would likely join the GOP in voting against the bill, putting passage in jeopardy.

“A lot of Democratic Assembly members have not indicated a great deal of support on this one,” explained “Dana,” a staffer in the Capitol, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Just from talking with a few other people on their staffs, voting against what constituents want is a huge concern, as is looking weak on anything having to do with jailing and crime right now.”

Law enforcement members have also come out solidly in opposition, saying that rights are taken away when incarcerated and that keeping them while incarcerated takes away a big part of punishment for crime.

“We’re already paroling a lot of criminals and closing prisons,” explained Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official who now works as a security advisor for businesses in San Francisco and cities in the Peninsula, to the Globe on Wednesday. “I talked to some old colleagues earlier today and they expressed a major concern that has gone unaddressed. Positions like County Sheriff and propositions that include prison reform go on ballots. There are 90,000 prisoners in California right now. That’s enough to decide a close election on a statewide issue, and locally, divided by counties, it is enough to remove a Sheriff who installed policies that led to their arrest. That’s a huge conflict.”

“But it all comes down punishing them too. Prisons should be about rehabilitation, and in California, once you are released, you get to vote again. Not allowing those that have severely wronged others to vote need to earn that right again. Otherwise, we’re not really punishing them for their crimes in full. A lot of people have said that allowing prisoners to vote is a betrayal to crime victims, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that that is right. We need a line on punishments in California, and giving prisoners the right to vote only further blurs that line.”

Other law enforcement members agreed.

“We need to show that what they did as wrong, and the trade of ‘you having harmed the public, so you can’t be a member of the public until you’re out,” is a very strong one,” said “Diego” an LAPD officer who wished to remain anonymous, to the Globe. “It’s a right many take for granted until it is suddenly gone, and getting it back makes some people in prison work harder to get out to get it back. I’m ashamed that the guy who came up with this idea comes from my city to be honest.”

On Wednesday, Bryan responded to some of the criticisms, specifically noting that he disagreed with the notion that granting the right to vote to prisoners is going against crime victims. “The voice of victims matters in the criminal legal system, but what we’re talking about right now is democracy as a whole,” added Bryan.

ACA 4 is expected to be heard in Committee next month.

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5 thoughts on “Bill To Restore Voting For Prisoners Meets Heavy Opposition In Assembly

  1. That’s a NO. But glad to see at least that there is also Dem opposition.
    Gee, I wonder if Asm Isaac Bryan would be at all willing to focus his attention on something useful and helpful? Plenty of items to pick from in this dystopian state! But for the worst of the Dem/Marxists it’s not enough to have TEN MILLION mail-in ballots floating around the state that were sent to phantom voters. It’s not enough to change every single state law that used to insure “clean enough” elections with minimal funny business. No. NOW we have to cement in the CA constitution so-called “prisoner voting rights” allowing felons to vote as well. Unbelievable.

  2. Well, this is a good example that even the Democrats realize that there are limits to how extreme they can be in this state. Voters, as uninformed as most of them are, will not tolerate anymore “Freedoms” given to criminals…not with crime rates soaring.

  3. It’s no wonder that LA has out of control crime when hard core Marxist Democrats like Assemblyman Isaac Bryan want to pamper convicted criminals and give them voting rights that they no longer deserve. Democrat Assemblyman Isaac Bryan is responsible for turning LA into a crime ridden hellhole. He’s truly demonic.

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