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August 2017 Essential Politics archives

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2018 electionBallot measures

Felons in California prisons would be able to vote under proposed ballot initiative

 (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Felons in state prison would be allowed to vote in California elections under a ballot measure proposed Wednesday by a group representing prisoners, their families and supporters.

The constitutional amendment was filed on Wednesday by Initiate Justice, an Oakland-based group that seeks criminal justice system changes for inmates, including the group's 2,500 members behind bars. The group has 1,000 supporters on the outside, according to founder and executive director Taina Vargas-Edmond.

“They [prisoners] don’t lose their citizenship when they become arrested,” Vargas-Edmond said. “I don’t believe they should lose their access to their democracy.”

The group needs 585,407 valid voter signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, a difficult task for a largely grass-roots effort.

The proposal comes less than a year after the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown approved a law that allows felons serving sentences in county jails to vote in California elections, as part of an effort to speed their transition back into society.

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