California Bill Would Grant Voting Rights to Prisoners in State Lockup
Californians in state prison would be allowed to vote under a proposed constitutional amendment introduced Monday.
The bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Isaac Bryan, D-Culver City.
“Democracy thrives when everybody has a chance to have their voice heard,” Bryan said on Twitter. Bryan is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Elections.
Bryan’s proposal goes beyond allowing people convicted of felonies to vote. California already allows for that in many cases, along with 21 other states. Most people being held in county jails, those who are on supervised release, and those who have completed their sentences can also vote in California elections.
People incarcerated in state prisons, however, are currently ineligible to cast ballots. That would change under Bryan’s proposal, which would require approval from at least two-thirds of the Assembly and state Senate, as well as a majority of California voters in a future election.
If passed the state would join Vermont, Maine and Washington, DC in extending the franchise to state prisoners.
The bill has already drawn opposition, including from Bryan’s vice chair on the elections committee.
“Criminal acts should have consequences,” said Palmdale Republican Tom Lackey on Twitter. “Voting is a sacred privilege, not an absolute right of citizenship.”