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California Passes Prop. 17, Grants Parolees Voting Rights

Nearly 50,000 Californians will have their voting rights restored after Proposition 17 was approved by 59% state voters on Tuesday (November 3). 

Proposition 17 gives voting rights to people who have been convicted of a felony, but are on parole. 

The ballot measure will change the state’s constitution, which currently bars people with felony convictions from voting until their incarceration and parole sentences are completed.

California Democratic Party officials including Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris, and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento supported Proposition 17. 

McCarty, who authored the measure, told the Los Angeles Times, “Prop. 17 gives Californians the chance to right a wrong and restore voting rights for a marginalized community and people of color,” adding, “This is good for democracy and good for public safety.” 

Proposition 17 initially landed on the ballot during the general election after the Black Lives Matter movement detailed the ways the criminal justice system methodically impacts communities of color

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that three out of four men that leave prisons in the state are Black, Latino or Asian. Proposition 17 seeks to alleviate this barrier to accessing the right to vote for communities of color by granting parolees voting rights. 

Currently, 19 states offer people convicted of felonies and on parole voting rights. Vermont, Maine and the District of Columbia further voting rights access by allowing people with felony convictions to vote while they are incarcerated.

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