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Californians might decide next year whether to let parolees vote again




A woman inserts her ballot into the machine after voting in Hermosa Beach, California, on November 6, 2018.
A woman inserts her ballot into the machine after voting in Hermosa Beach, California, on November 6, 2018.
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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Should you be allowed to vote if you’re a convicted felon who’s now on parole?

About half of the states in the U.S. say yes, and that statistic is growing. Florida just allowed 1.4 million ex-convicts to register, and Louisiana is about to let ex-convicts who were released at least five years ago to vote. As of now, California is not one of them. For felons granted lifetime parole, that means they’re not eligible to vote again. But residents will be voting on it soon, and if they say yes, California could gain nearly 50,000 eligible voters.

 

The Free the Vote Act would allow criminals the same voting rights once they are released from prison.  The bill working its way through the legislature now. It needs two-third support in the House and the Senate before it can get onto the 2020 ballot. Then it just needs a simple majority to pass.

Do you think parolees should vote? If it does pass, how likely are parolees to vote? And how might that new group of voters influence elections?

Guests:

Taina Vargas-Edmond, co-founder and executive director of Initiate Justice, a non-profit that advocates for people impacted by incarceration; she filed the initiative; she tweets @tainaangeli

Christine Ward, executive director of Crime Victims Action Alliance, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization advocating for victims rights and public safety at the state level