Voting With a Criminal Record in California
Recent legal and legislative victories expanded the right to vote for people with past convictions in California. With other agencies, All of Us or None and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children filed a lawsuit in 2012, arguing that Californians sentenced to court supervision under Realignment had been unconstitutionally stripped of their right to vote. A Superior Court Judge agreed, ruling that new forms of supervision under Realignment (mandatory supervision and post-release community supervision) are different from parole. This victory was finalized in August 2015 restoring voting rights for over 60,000 people under court supervision.
In 2016, LSPC co-sponsored AB 2466, which codified these voting rights and further expanded voting rights. AB 2466 will go into effect January 1, 2017.
What Are My Voting Rights if I Have a Misdemeanor?
- A misdemeanor conviction does not affect your right to vote at all. You can vote in all elections.
What Are My Voting Rights if I Have a Felony?
If you have a felony conviction, you CAN vote if:
- You are on probation, even if you are in jail as a condition of your probation, or
- You have completed your probation, or
- You are awaiting a judge’s decision on a probation violation, or
- You are on mandatory supervision, or
- You are on post-release community supervision, or
- You have completed your parole
- You are in county jail under Realignment—as of January 1, 2017
(NOT for the November 8, 2016 election!)
You are not allowed to vote if you have a felony conviction and:
- are serving time in a state prison
- are in jail waiting for transfer to state prison
- are in county jail under Realignment—until December 31, 2016
- or are on parole
Can I Vote While I Am On Probation?
YES! You can vote at all times while you are on probation, regardless of whether your conviction is a felony or misdemeanor.
Can I Vote While I Am On Parole?
No. You can vote only once you have completed your parole.
Can I Vote While I Am On Mandatory Supervision?
YES! You can now vote when you are on mandatory supervision.
Can I Vote While I Am On Post-Release Community Supervision?
YES! You can now vote when you are on post-release community supervision.
Can I Vote While I am in Jail?
MAYBE. You CAN vote if you are in jail:
- awaiting trial for any crime, or
- for a misdemeanor conviction, or
- for a felony conviction under Realignment, or—as of January 1, 2017
(NOT for the November 8, 2016 election!)
- on a probation violation, or
- on felony probation
To register to vote while in jail, ask a guard or counselor for a voter registration application. If they refuse to give you one, write to the county clerk to request an application. If you are eligible and registered to vote while you’re in jail, write to your county clerk to request a vote-by-mail ballot.
The ONLY time you lose the right to vote is when you are:
- in state prison for a felony conviction, or
- in jail awaiting transfer to a state prison for a felony conviction, or
- on parole for a felony conviction, or
- in county jail for a felony conviction under Realignment—only until December 31, 2016, or
- in jail for a state parole violation
Can I Vote if I Have Been to Prison in the Past?
- Yes! The only time you are NOT eligible to vote in California is if you are in state prison, serving a felony sentence in county jail (until December 31, 2016) or on parole.
- After January 1, 2017 the only time you will NOT be eligible to vote in California is if you are in state prison, or on state parole.
Remember, you have the right to vote if you are
On Post-Release Community Supervision
On Mandatory Supervision
(In jail—beginning January 1, 2017)
How to register to vote once you have been released or have completed your parole:
Pick up a paper voter registration application at your county elections office, public library, Department of Motor Vehicles office, or U.S. post office. Your voter registration application must be filled out completely and must be postmarked or hand-delivered to your county elections office at least 15 days before the election.
Visit www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration for the Online Registration Form. Online registration is available in many languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.