What is CA Prop. 17?

What is CA Prop. 17?

Victoria Pappas
 | 
With the November elections right around the corner, there are more matters to vote on other than the presidential election. It is important to know and understand what matters are on the ballot and what your vote is impacting. 

If you are voting in California, there are many propositions on the ballot this year. Also referred to as a ballot measure, propositions appear on voting ballots and are pieces of proposed state legislation that voters have the opportunity to accept or reject. 

This year's California ballot has 12 different propositions (also referred to as “props”). One of those is prop 17 - Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment.

What is Prop 17?
Prop 17 is a California State Constitution amendment that gives those on parole for felony convictions the ability to vote in California. 
When someone is on parole it means that they have been released from prison before the end of their sentence. People on parole are usually supervised by a parole officer and can return to prison if they break the terms of their parole. 

Until someone is released from prison or is off parole, that person does not have the right to vote in California (and two other states).
Currently 50,000 people in California released from prison, who are otherwise eligible to vote, do not have the right to vote because they are on parole and haven't finished their prison term. 

The prop also allows people released from prison on parole to run for office, only if they are registered to vote and have not been convicted of perjury or bribery.

 

Click here to read the Official Voter Information Guide and see the exact language of the prop.

 

What do other states say?

 

According to Ballotpedia, “19 states allowed people convicted of felonies, but who were on parole, to vote. [17] of these states did not allow people to vote while imprisoned.”

 

Maine and Vermont are the only states that allow people who are imprisoned to vote. 

 

18 states do not allow those who were on parole, probation, or in prison to vote. 

If a person is convicted of a particular felony, 7 states do not allow that person to ever vote again. 

“In Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia, people convicted of felonies never regain the right to vote, although their governors can issue orders to restore voting rights to individuals or groups.”

Click here to see specific state laws on this topic.

Arguments in favor of Prop 17.

An argument for passing this piece of legislation is that it gives people who are trying to reintegrate into and participate in society as a regular citizen. 

Initiate Justice states that people who have returned home from prison are “working, paying taxes, and positively contributing to their communities, yet they are unable to vote … [t]his system operates as ‘taxation without representation,’ which is antithetical to the founding of this country.”

Other proponents also state that, “[parolees] should be encouraged to reenter society and have a stake in their community, not be punished by having their voting rights denied. Prop 17 will right this injustice and restore voting rights to Californians returning home from prison.”

Voting allows people to be active and engaged members of society and their communities. Those who are “civically engaged …  are three times more likely to never be arrested again.”

The basic argument is that those on parole have re-entered into and are actively contributing to society, the state, and their own communities therefore they should have the right to vote for and elect the people who they want to represent them and run their communities. 

Arguments against Prop 17.

One argument is that parole allows a formerly imprisoned person to show that they have been rehabilitated and changed from their experience. Thus, voting is a right parolees should only gain once they have proven they are rehabilitated; this would happen after parole is over. 

Those on parole are still being supervised and “have not had their full rights to freedom restored.” The right to vote should be one of the rights restored after parole. 

Next steps.

If you vote in California this election, you have the right to vote either for or against prop 17. Voting “yes” to prop 17 means you would like to change the state law and give those on parole the right to vote. Voting “no” means you do not want to change the state law and do not want to give people on parole the right to vote.

Prop 17 (and all other props) need over 50% “yes” votes to pass and officially become law. 

California voters will have the chance to vote yes or no to this proposition on their election ballot for the upcoming November elections. 

Click here or here to make sure you are registered to vote. 

Click here if you are a California resident and need to register to vote. October 19th is the voting registration deadline in California. 

 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 

 

 
Victoria Pappas
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