Deadline: On Monday, August 19, 2019, make a call to make California a more democratic place –
California is one of a rapidly shrinking number of states that doesn’t allow people on parole to vote. Believe it or not, it’s actually in the state Constitution. Now ACA 6, the “Free the Vote Act,” would amend the California Constitution to remove that prohibition – and it’s coming up for a vote in the State Assembly the week of August 19. Tell your Assemblymember: Vote YES on ACA 6. Read on for a short call script and contact info; and below that, more info, talking points, a great toolkit to boost this on social media, and more resources.
What to do:
1. Call your state Assemblymember and tell them to vote YES on ACA 6.
What to say:
If your Assemblymember is Rob Bonta, he’s a coauthor of the bill; you don’t have to ask him to vote on it, but you should thank him:
My name is ____________, my zip code is _____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Assemblymember Bonta for coauthoring ACA 6. Not allowing people on parole to vote is a form of voter suppression and it needs to end. California should leave Jim Crow behind. Many states restore the vote to people when they leave prison. We should too.
- Rob Bonta: District: 510-286-1670; Capitol: 916-319-2018
If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, or Bill Quirk, tell them:
My name is ____________, my zip code is _____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Assemblymember _______ to vote YES on ACA 6. Not allowing people on parole to vote is a form of voter suppression and it needs to end. California should leave Jim Crow behind. Many states restore the vote to people when they leave prison. We should too.
- Buffy Wicks: District: 510-286-1400; Capitol: 916-319-2015
- Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: Capitol (handles legislative calls): 916-319-2016
- Bill Quirk: Capitol: 916-319-2020; District 510-583-8818
- Not sure who your Assemblymember is? Check here; or call 916-702-8820 and enter your zip code and you’ll be connected directly to your legislator.
- Got California friends outside the East Bay? They can use this click-to-call page for a script and to be patched through to their Assemblymember; or they can call 916-702-8820 and enter their zip code to be connected directly to their legislator.
2. Spread it on social media
Here’s a cool social media toolkit all set up for you! Use it, pass it on, spread the word!
More info about why we need ACA 6:
Under the California Constitution and Elections Code, people on parole cannot vote. ACA 6 seeks to change that.
Parole is intended to reintegrate formerly incarcerated individuals back into the community. Nearly 50,000 Californians on parole pay taxes at the local, state, and federal levels. Allowing people to vote again after they have finished their prison sentence increases their feeling of connection to their community in a positive way. Voting “can play a major role in reducing recidivism.”
On the other hand: stripping the vote from felons comes from the Jim Crow era. It’s part of a whole fabric of voter suppression in minority and marginalized communities – restoring the vote needs to be part of destroying that fabric. Current state law allows some people on community supervision to vote, but since some individuals have been punished harshly – even jailed! – for trying in good faith to vote when they were not allowed to, some eligible voters will be deterred from going to the polls rather than take any chances. Ending disenfranchisement for people on parole would clarify voting rights for all formerly incarcerated people in California.
California is behind the times in not allowing people on parole to vote: As of 2020, in sixteen other states and the District of Columbia a person’s right to vote will be automatically restored after their release from prison, with more states considering eliminating their provisions against people on parole voting; in addition, two states (Maine and Vermont) don’t remove voting rights for people with convictions, even while they’re in prison. It’s too late for us to be a leader, but at least let’s not be the tail end of this trend toward justice.
- Our previous article on ACA 6
- Background info and a fact sheet on ACA 6 from “Free the Vote-California”
- “Felon Voting Rights” from the National Conference of State Legislatures
“Restoring the Right to Vote for People on Parole” by the League of Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville
- Indivisible Berkeley’s action item on ACA 6, including info on three nearby Assemblymembers who need to hear from their constituents – check it out and see if you know anyone in those districts who you can get to call!
Photograph, “Felon voting rights” by Michael Fleshman