Activate The Vote!

Deep Democracy suggests that all voices, states of awareness, and frameworks of reality are important. Deep Democracy also suggests that all the information carried within these voices, levels of awareness, and frameworks is needed to understand the complete process of a system. Deep Democracy is an attitude that focuses on the awareness of voices that are both central and marginal.

Fellow Voting Law in California

December 2006, the California appeals court made a ruling that restored the voting rights of as many as 100,000 people in county jails and on probation. September 2016, Gov. Brown signed Assembly Bill 2466, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber restoring the voting rights of over 50,000 criminally disenfranchised Californians post AB109 Realignment.

If you are in jail, you are entitled to vote:

· If you are awaiting trial for a crime;

· If you are serving time for a misdemeanor conviction;

· If you are on a probation violation; or

· If you are, as mentioned, on felony probation.

How do you lose you right to vote?

Background and History

The idea of taking away a criminal's right to vote has been around since ancient Greece and Rome. A condition called "civil death" in Europe involved the forfeiture of property, the loss of the right to appear in court, and a prohibition on entering into contracts, as well as the loss of voting rights. Civil death was brought to America by English colonists, but most aspects of it were eventually abolished, leaving only felon disenfranchisement intact in some parts of modern America.

Categories of Disenfranchisement

State approaches to felon disenfranchisement vary tremendously. In Maine and Vermont, felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are incarcerated. In Florida, Iowa and Virginia, felons and ex-felons permanently lose their right to vote. Virginia and Florida have supplementary programs which facilitate gubernatorial pardons. The remaining states each have their own approaches to the issue.

  • In 38 states and the District of Columbia, most ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon the completion of their sentence.

  • In some states, ex-felons must wait for a certain period of time after the completion of their sentence before rights can be restored.

  • In some states, an ex-felon must apply to have voting rights restored.

5.8 million Americans can't vote due to felony conviction. One out of every 13 eligible African Americans of voting age has lost their right to vote. While nearly 5.1 million adults are at any time under community supervision; Probationers (4,270,917) represented the majority (84%) of the community supervision population these are people who can and should have the legal right to vote; Parolees (828,169) accounted for a smaller share (16%) and cannot vote.

Barriers to the Restoration of Rights

Even in states where ex-offenders automatically regain the right to vote upon completion of their sentence, the process of re-registering to vote often is difficult. One reason is the complexity of the laws and processes surrounding disenfranchisement. In some cases, it is difficult to determine whose rights can be restored. This can vary in some states according to the date of the crime, the conviction, or the release from prison, or the nature of the crime. The complex restoration process also can be daunting. It often involves lengthy paperwork, burdensome documentation, and the involvement and coordination of several state agencies.

A second barrier to restoration of voting rights for ex-offenders is the often-inconsistent communication among agencies. The methods of communicating the loss and restoration of voting rights among courts, corrections and elections officials are not always reliable, timely or consistent. This inconsistency can result in uneven application of the law, even when the laws are clear. Another barrier is lack of information. Ex-offenders sometimes are not aware that they regain their voting rights automatically upon completion of their sentence. They go through life believing they cannot vote when, in fact, they can. In other cases, they are not informed of the process for regaining their rights or offered assistance in doing so. As long as they remain ignorant of the necessary steps, ex-offenders cannot begin the process of regaining voting rights.

A final obstacle is under-funding of parole boards in some states where offenders must apply to have their rights restored. A massive backlog of applications can exist because the agencies do not have adequate staff or resources to process them in a timely manner.