While Californians are not threatened by the various voter suppression tactics seen in other states, we must remain vigilant. We realize there is always room for improvement and outreach to underserved persons in our communities, including those who have disabilities or do not speak English as a primary language. In addition to supporting measures to restore voting rights to those on parole, there is a continuing need for grassroots efforts to inform and assist those serving time in county jails or on probation, who often believe they are disenfranchised. We will support legislation to improve voting services and seize opportunities to extend voting rights protections that have been curtailed by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
As we examine voter turnout rates across the state, we can see many opportunities to make the electorate in California more representative of the population as a whole. Voter service work to prepare materials in plain language and address the language needs of our newer voters is a
primary effort in this area, as is an expanded Voter’s Edge. Expanding awareness of the ease of online registration, preregistration for youth 16 and older, and ease of voting by mail are just some ways we can help inform our communities.
At a time when our national political institutions are under historic levels of stress and scrutiny, many states are moving to expand our democracy by restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions. Building on the momentum of this growing national civil rights movement, Free the Vote California is fighting to pass ACA 6 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). ACA 6 will restore the right to vote for people on parole in California by placing an initiative on the 2020 ballot to amend the California Constitution.
Currently, nearly 50,000 Californians are unable to participate in local, state, and federal elections because they are on parole. Not only have these individuals finished their sentences, but they are working, paying taxes, and raising families in our communities without the opportunity to help choose the representatives and shape the policies that impact their lives. Like our criminal legal system more broadly, this silencing disproportionately impacts Californians of color. The League of Women Voters of California has been fighting for voting rights for 100 years. We are co-sponsoring ACA 6 because the fight is not over. Mass incarceration disproportionately impacts black and brown Californians -- resulting in a less representative electorate. Extending suffrage to 50,000 Californians on parole, who are living and working in our communities right now, is a moral imperative, sound public policy, and essential to achieving an inclusive democracy.
What can you do to support the Free the Vote Movement?
Tell your elected officials to vote YES on ACA 6 and join our coalition today: initiatejustice.org.