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Kevin McCarty
Kevin McCarty. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Senate Passes Amendment Granting Voting Rights to Felons on Parole

‘These are criminals who may now possibly vote without paying their full debt to society’

By Evan Symon, June 25, 2020 3:03 pm

If voters approve of the amendment this fall, 48,000 people on parole in California would be allowed to vote in the next election.

 

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a constitutional amendment that would allow felons on parole to vote, sending the final decision to voters this November.

Voting rights for those on parole

Assembly Constitution Amendment 6, authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), would allow for restoration of voting rights immediately after serving their time in prison. If voters approve of the amendment this fall, 48,000 people on parole in California would be allowed to vote in the next election.

Also known as the Free the Vote Act, ACA 6 had been languishing in the Senate since being passed by the Assembly last year. Due to notable resistance in the Senate, the odds were not good for passage leading up until May. After the George Floyd protests,a renewed vigor went into the campaign due to arguments that not allowing those on parole unfairly targeted African-Americans and other minorities. In June, ACA 6 quickly passed through Senate Committees before narrowly getting the 2/3rds required for an amendment change bill 28-9 on Wednesday.

Assemblyman McCarty wrote the bill arguing that the law not allowing parolees to vote was racially charged and that it was akin to a Jim Crow law that unfairly focused on African-Americans. He pointed to statistics showing that 26% of the parole population was African-American, despite being only 6% of the state’s population. On Wednesday, the Assemblyman noted the victory on Twitter.

“ACA 6 passed on the Senate Floor!,” exclaimed Assemblyman McCarthy. “To get to this day was not easy, and there’s still work to be done. But I am thrilled that Californians will have an opportunity to weigh in this November, and use their voice to give voice to others.

 

Other supporters also noted the reasoning behind the bill.

“ACA 6 is headed to the ballot!” added Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) on Twitter. “This November, Californians will be able to vote to restore voting rights to individuals on parole. To build a truly equitable & democratic future, we must ensure that all voices are heard.”

Opposition against ACA 6

However, many were also against ACA 6. Opponents have said that, since they are under parole, that they are still under their original sentence outside of prison, and thus should not be allowed to vote. Others have said that it takes away a deterrent, as a growing segment of the prison population have said that they wanted to vote.

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal, even laughable, right? Someone complaining that they can’t vote in prison,” said former prisoner Mike Krieger, who had served time in lower security prisons in California. “But there are issues you care about, candidates you want to win. There are issues like these on the ballot you wish you could vote for.”

“So yeah, it does make you think twice sometimes when you’re back out. You don’t realize how important it is until it’s gone.”

Others have noted the criminal aspect of it.

“These are criminals who may now possibly vote without paying their full debt to society,” noted lawyer Mina Lopez. “It’s not about racial disenfranchisement at all. That’s only what so happens to be the makeup. No, this is about restoring a right they haven’t earned back yet.”

“And now they are one step away from getting it back.”

Californians will vote on ACA 6 during the general election on November 3rd. If passed, California will be the third state in the US to allow felons on parole to vote following Maine and Vermont.

Evan Symon
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7 thoughts on “Senate Passes Amendment Granting Voting Rights to Felons on Parole

  1. what about felons that move there from other states, just to get to vote? that wold make california the national haven for crime and lawlessness. this is a very ignorant decision

  2. Bkacks may be only 6% of the CA population, but on a per capita basis, and an absolute one in some crime ridden jurisdictions, they commit the majority percentage of crimes. Was that statistic ever considered by those who promoted and voted for this destructive bill?

    1. Democrats would rather disarm the lot of us. Just because the democrats give felons on parole the vote does not mean they have to vote democrat. It is my opinion that they should not regain the vote until they have completed their parole. California’s recidivism rate is 66% within the first two years, 53% within four years and then drops to 22% after 5 years. You could look at this in two ways, withhold the vote during parole or know that more than half will be back in prison any way. Some want to give the vote to those in prison now. Power is the main motivation, once they have it Lord help us all.

      1. Thats got to be the best post i read all year. Thanks for stating facts about the recidivism rate and not a bunch of the racist propaganda they’re trying to covertly use as a ploy to justify their greedy means to exploit the American people.

  3. We have been seeing a steady flow of puzzling de-criminalization efforts from California Democrats in recent years. What is the goal of this particular one — allowing felons on parole to vote? Is it a matter of misplaced compassion and sympathy? Is it a “favor” to a convict in exchange for a Democrat vote? Is it in exchange for hanging a jury in a murder trial? Or who knows what, such as adding another X-factor to California societal chaos?

    First of all, a criminal has not paid his debt to society or “done his time” until he has completed parole. (Such as it is, which may no longer be rigorous or accountable as it once was.) Second, one of the things we have long determined in American society is that a person who chooses to engage in felony criminal activity loses certain rights forever such as voting, serving on juries, possession of firearms, etc.

    A felony is a serious matter for which, in a civilized society, there must be consequences. In addition, all such crimes have victims, many of whom through no fault of their own are traumatized for life as well as their families. What about them? Is there compassion for them? Do they deserve justice?

    The public must be well aware by now that in California there has been a push for many years by Democrats for “de-carceration.” Witness some 7,000 convicts released under flimsy cover of COVID19 in recent months, the second batch let out in spite of a court ruling disallowing it. We’ve seen non-stop efforts to reduce criminal penalties, change felonies to misdemeanors, reduce sentences, release convicts early, close prisons, block deportation of illegal immigrants who have committed serious and violent crimes, erase criminal records, install D.A.s who refuse to prosecute, pass legislation that legalizes murder, rape, and arson (AB 1810), etc.

    These efforts serve to protect the public and keep them safe how, exactly?

    California Democrats’ prioritization of criminals who have not even yet served their time while disregarding the plight of the victims of crimes, who have suffered greatly, is not acceptable and is not “justice.”

  4. Being able to vote when under Parole is not sufficient, we need to help these In captivity in prisons. Restore their right to vote especially because there are many laws that affect them adversely or otherwise. They need to have a voice. We have no right to strip them from that right, we all have made mistakes at one point or another in our lives.

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