Official Arguments (click ▸ to expand)
VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 17 Proposition 17 is simple—it restores a person's right to vote upon completion of their prison term.
- When a person completes their prison sentence, they should be encouraged to reenter society and have a stake in their community. Restoring their voting rights does that. Civic engagement is connected to lower rates of recidivism. When people feel that they are valued members of their community, they are less likely to return to prison.
- 19 other states allow people to vote once they have successfully completed their prison sentence. It's time for California to do the same.
- A Florida study found that people who have completed their prison sentences and had their voting rights restored were less likely to commit crimes in the future.
- Nearly 50,000 Californians who have completed their prison sentences pay taxes at the local, state, and federal levels. However, they are not able to vote at any level of government.
PROP. 17 WILL HAVE REAL LIFE IMPACTS—STORIES FROM CALIFORNIANS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THEIR SENTENCES After a parole board granted Richard his freedom, he was shocked to learn that he still could not cast a vote in California. Over the last 20 years, Richard has become what he describes as "a man built for others"—helping develop a drug and alcohol counseling program while still in prison and advocating for better criminal justice policies. "I work hard, serve my community, pay taxes, give back, and I am still a citizen of this country," Richard said. "I believe that qualifies me to have the right to vote again." Andrew is a Navy veteran who served his country but developed a drinking problem and made big mistakes that led to prison. He earned parole by working toward his rehabilitation, and now that his prison sentence is completed, he's building a new life as a veteran learning to contribute to his community. Andrew says, "I believe in working hard for what you get in life, and I believe that I've earned the right to vote so I can be a full member of my community." YES ON PROPOSITION 17 Parole is intended to be a period of reintegration into the community. People on parole who have completed their prison sentences raise families, hold jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to society in every other way. Restoring a person's voting eligibility removes stigma and helps strengthen their connection to the community. Yeson17.vote #FreetheVote CAROL MOON GOLDBERG, President League of Women Voters of California JAY JORDAN, Executive Director Californians for Safety and Justice KEVIN MCCARTY, Assemblymember Prop. 17 Author
PROPOSITION 17 WILL ALLOW CRIMINALS CONVICTED OF MURDER, RAPE, SEXUAL ABUSE AGAINST CHILDREN, KIDNAPPING, ASSAULT, GANG GUN CRIMES AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO VOTE BEFORE COMPLETING THEIR SENTENCE INCLUDING PAROLE. In 1974, California voters approved restoring the right to vote to convicted felons once they have completed their sentences (including parole). More recently, California's prison reform measures have moved all but the most vicious criminals out of prisons and into local jails. People convicted of nonviolent felonies like car theft or drug dealing are incarcerated in county jails and have the right to vote while serving their sentence. For them there is no parole. PAROLE IN CALIFORNIA IS FOR SERIOUS AND VIOLENT CRIMINALS. Criminals in prison have been convicted of murder or manslaughter, robbery, rape, child molestation or other serious and violent crimes and sex offenses. They have victimized innocent, law-abiding citizens who are condemned for life to revisit those crimes in every nightmare. Certain sounds, smells and everyday experiences will always return them mentally and emotionally to the scene of the crime, and for them there is no end to their sentence. Knowing that their victimizers would have social equality with them before they have been fully rehabilitated simply adds to their lifelong pain and misery. PAROLE IS TO PROVE REHABILITATION BEFORE FULL LIBERTY, INCLUDING VOTING RIGHTS, IS RESTORED. Offenders released from PRISON after serving a term for a serious or violent felony are required to complete parole (usually three years) as part of their sentences. Parole is an adjustment period when violent felons prove their desire to adjust to behaving properly in a free society. Their every move is monitored and supervised by a trained state officer. If the state does not trust them to choose where to live or travel, with whom to associate and what jobs to do, it MUST NOT trust them with decisions that will impact the lives and finances of all other members of society. MOST PAROLEES STUMBLE AND 50% ARE CONVICTED OF NEW CRIMES. Unfortunately, about half of parolees commit new crimes within three years of release. Clearly, they are not ready to join the society of law-abiding citizens. Rewards and privileges in life must be earned and deserved. Giving violent criminals the right to vote before they have successfully completed their full sentence, which INCLUDES A PERIOD OF PAROLE, is like giving students a high school diploma at the end of tenth grade. It makes no sense, and hurts their future and all of society. JUSTICE DEMANDS A NO VOTE ON PROPOSITION 17. Crime victims deserve justice. Granting violent criminals the right to vote before the completion of their sentence is not justice. Offenders deserve justice as well. Their self-respect depends upon knowing that they have made full restitution for their crimes and have earned a second chance. Californians deserve a justice system where offenders pay for their crimes, prove their rehabilitation, and only then are welcomed back into civil society. Proposition 17 is NOT justice. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 17 HARRIET SALARNO, Founder Crime Victims United of California JIM NIELSEN, Chairman California Board of Prison Terms (Ret.) RUTH WEISS, Vice President Election Integrity Project California
California Proposition 17, Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment (2020) - Ballotpedia
California Proposition 17, the Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment, is on the ballot in California as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020. Proposition 17 is a constitutional amendment that would allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote in California.
✅ San Francisco Chronicle
"Would restore voting rights of people on parole who have finished their state or federal prison terms."
Editorial: Let parolees vote in California. Vote Yes on Prop. 17.
After having served their time in prison, released inmates are back in the world, ready to work, settle into society and resume life. But they can't vote as long as they remain on post-prison parole. Proposition 17 would lift that unwarranted restriction. Since 1974, California has allowed felons who completed parole to vote.
✅ The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Yes on Prop. 17: Help felons reintegrate into society by letting them vote.
People who make mistakes shouldn’t be given up on."
Endorsement: Yes on Prop. 17: Help felons reintegrate into society by letting them vote
As illustrated by the criticism that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has faced over his support for tough anti-crime laws while a Delaware senator in the late 20th century, the idea that the criminal justice system should harshly judge lawbreakers used to be close to a bipartisan consensus.
✅ American Civil Liberties Union SoCal
"Vote to restore voting rights for people reentering.
Prop 17 will restore voting rights to 50,000 people in California who are returning home after finishing their prison term. It allows them to reintegrate into society and have a say in our democracy. Vote YES on Prop 17 to help reverse a racist form of voter suppression that disproportionately locks Black and brown voters out of the ballot box. It’s time to free the vote."
✅ Los Angeles Times
"In California, felons who have served their time in prison are denied the right to vote until they finish their parole. That’s an obstacle they don’t need as they reintegrate into society."
Endorsement: Yes on Proposition 17: Parolees deserve the right to vote
It should be a fundamental principle of justice that anyone convicted of a crime, having served their sentence, has the right to fully rejoin society. Sadly, in a nation that has the world's highest incarceration rate, this point has to be made again and again.
✅ The Mercury News
"Proposition 17 would extend voting rights to people on parole. We urge support to show respect and encouragement to fellow Californians who are trying to rebuild their lives."
Editorial: Who should be allowed to cast a ballot in California?
Get editorials, opinion columns, letters to the editor and more in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up for the Bay Area Opinion newsletter. California voters will be asked in the Nov. 3 election to expand the pool of state residents who can cast ballots. Proposition 17 would extend voting rights to people on parole.
✅ Orange County Register
"Parolees who have done their time should have their voting rights restored."
Yes on Proposition 17, No on Proposition 18
Just as we celebrate the centennial of American women gaining the right to vote, two California ballot measures this fall also deal with the commendable goal of increasing suffrage - of allowing, and encouraging, more people to be able to go to the polls and participate in our democracy.
🚫 The Desert Sun
“Rather than additional punishment, we see maintaining the status quo that prevents a parolee from voting until completion of that obligation as encouragement that, added to rehabilitation and other social programs offered, will help successfully reintegrate these persons into society. The average parole period in California is about three years. This is not an undue burden.”
Editorial: Felons should complete parole before regaining vote. No on Prop 17
Endorsements are decided by the Editorial Board, which operates independently of the Desert Sun news staff. The Editorial Board consists of Opinion Editor Al Franco, Executive Editor Julie Makinen, Desert Sun Staff Member Darby Wright and community members Gloria Franz, Becky Kurtz, Terria Smith and Rob Moon.
✅ California Democratic Party
"Restores voting rights to Californians who have completed their prison term. Free the Vote!"
Home - Yes On 17
Prop 17 will amend the California Constitution so that Californians who have completed their prison term can fully participate in our democracy by restoring their right to vote. Nearly 50,000 Californians who have returned home from prison can't vote even though they are raising families, holding jobs, paying taxes, and contributing to society in every other way.
"Allows Felons to Vote
Prop 17 allows felons convicted of murder, rape, sexual abuse against children, kidnapping, assault, and human trafficking the right to vote before completing their sentence, including parole."