San Francisco Chronicle
Amendment would allow incarcerated to vote
Incarcerated Californians would be allowed to vote from prison under a proposed constitutional amendment announced Tuesday.
The proposal by Assembly Member Isaac Bryan, D-Los Angeles, would let people vote while they are serving a prison sentence. If twothirds of lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature approve the proposal, it would go to voters, who would decide whether to change the law. A majority of voters would need to approve the amendment for it to become law.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Bryan wrote on Twitter. “All of the data shows that voting reduces recidivism and increases the community connectivity for people upon release.”
He also noted that nearly 10,000 veterans are incarcerated in California, and argued that they should be allowed to vote after fighting for their country. Veterans are more likely to become incarcerated than the general public, he said.
California already allows felons who have completed their prison sentence to vote. Three years ago, California voters approved a ballot measure to let people on parole vote, too. Bryan’s proposal, ACA4, would expand that right to people in prison.
More than 90,000 adults are incarcerated in California state prisons, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
If passed, California would join Maine and Vermont in allowing prisoners to vote.
The measure could face a significant hurdle in the Legislature, even though Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers. In 2019, lawmakers passed the proposed amendment allowing parolees to vote by only narrow margins. When it went before voters in the 2020 election, it passed the needed 50% threshold by a wider margin, winning about 59% of the vote.
ACA4 has not yet been assigned to a committee.
Bryan chairs the Assembly’s elections committee. The Republican who serves as vice chair has already come out against the measure.
“I am opposed to #ACA4,” Assembly Member Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, wrote on Twitter. “Criminal acts should have consequences. Voting is a sacred privilege, not an absolute right of citizenship.”