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People who are found guilty of committing a felony in California are not allowed to vote in an election until they complete their parole. But what about felons currently serving time in California county jails, do they get to vote? Well, as of right now they cannot, but that could change if Governor Jerry Brown signs a bill put forward by the California State Legislature, numerous news agencies report, including CBSNews Sacramento. The Governor has until September 30, 2016, to sign AB-2466, which would effectively amend the language in the state’s constitution by defining imprisoned as “currently serving a state or federal prison sentence.”

It is reported AB-2466 has the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The organization believes that that laws which disenfranchise minorities are a vestige of Jim Crow. The ACLU notes that “three out of every four men in California prisons are men of color,” which means that “felony disenfranchisement laws are a legacy of Jim Crow.” AB-2466 is “a step towards ending the shameful legacy of Jim Crow in California.”

“While national attention is focused on a few states, many fail to realize that in California voters of color have suffered new restrictions on their right to vote in recent years. I wrote AB 2466 because I want to send a message to the nation that California will not stand for discrimination in voting,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the author of the bill. 

Here is how California compares to other states regarding felon voting rights:

  • Felons have the right to vote while behind bars in both Maine and Vermont.
  • Voting rights are restored automatically upon release in fourteen states.
  • Felons can vote again after completing parole in four states (including California).
  • Voting rights are returned after the completion of a sentence thirty-eight states.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

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