Sacramento, CA – Californians voted on Tuesday to let convicted felons who are still on parole vote in their state.
California’s Proposition 17 changed the state constitution that disqualified felons from voting until their incarceration and parole had been completed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Unofficial tallies on Wednesday morning showed that about 59 percent of California voters chose to restore the parolees voting rights.
The ballot measure was authored by Democratic State Assemblyman Kevin McCarty and had the support of the California Democratic Party and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Prop. 17 gives Californians the chance to right a wrong and restore voting rights for a marginalized community and people of color,” McCarty said. “This is good for democracy and good for public safety.”
Critics of the measure had said that it was an “affront” to the people who had been victimized by the criminals, the Los Angeles Times reported.
However, there was no large organized opposition movement fighting the proposed constitutional change.
McCarty proposed the measure when the Black Lives Matter protests across the country were sparking conversations about criminal justice reform.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation statistics showed that three out of four men leaving California prisons were black, Latino, or Asian, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Prop 17 campaign materials said the high number of minority convicted felons is a result of “persistent and systematic racial inequalities in the criminal justice system.”
“For far too long, Black and brown Californians have been excluded from our democracy. Today, California voters definitively righted a historic wrong,” Taina Vargas-Edmond, executive chair of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and co-founder and executive director of Initiate Justice, said.
Vargas-Edmond called the passage of Prop 17 a “victory for democracy and justice,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla helped raise more than $1.3 million for the Prop 17 campaign.
“Today, in California there are 50,000 women and men who have completed their state prison sentence, are reintegrating back into society, working jobs and paying taxes, but are denied the right to vote,” Padilla said. “Yet research shows that in jurisdictions where voting rights are more easily restored, formerly incarcerated individuals re-offend at lower rates.”
Supporters of Prop 17 said that giving parolees the vote would reduce recidivism.
A 2004 study conducted by sociology professors at the University of Minnesota and New York University determined that among people who had been arrested previously, only 12 percent of voters were re-arrested, as compared to 27 percent of non-voters who were rearrested, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Nineteen states allow convicted felons on parole to vote.
In Main, Vermont, and DC, convicted felons can vote while they’re still incarcerated, the Los Angeles Times reported.
California has previously extended voting rights to inmates in county jails.
Under the law in California, those convicted felons who are still incarcerated cannot vote, but convicted felons on probation can, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Associated Press estimated that the passage of Prop 17 restored voting rights to about 50,000 convicted felons.