A state Court of Appeal has ruled that California's estimated 50,000 homeless citizens have the right to vote.
The unanimous decision Friday by the three-member court, meeting in Ventura, overturned a 1984 Santa Barbara Superior Court ruling that upheld the right of election officials to deny voting rights to three men living under a fig tree in a Santa Barbara park.
"It is patently unjust that society ignores the homeless and yet also denies them the proper avenues to remedy the situation," Justice Steven Stone wrote in the 19-page decision. "Powerlessness breeds apathy, and apathy is the greatest danger to society."
The three men originally appealed to Superior Court after election officials ruled their voter registration cards invalid, calling the address they listed insufficient. The case gained nationwide attention, especially after one of the men put up a mailbox in front of the fig tree, and police took it down.
The attorney who appealed the case, Willard Hastings, said he was happy with Friday's decision.