Hearing Date:  SEPTEMBER  9TH  2010

CSA Office, 600 Bercut Drive, Sacramento, CA 95811
C.S.A. ph: 916.445.5073

Introduction: We propose that the Corrections Standards Authority communicate to all Local Detention Facility Administrators within its jurisdiction, in CA counties the most recent legal mandates and clarification regarding Article II, Section 4 of the California Constitution.

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE II: VOTING, INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND RECALL
SEC. 4. The Legislature shall prohibit improper practices that affect elections and shall provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony.

In the League of Women Voters of California et al., Petitioners v. Bruce McPherson, as Secretary of State, et al. (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 1469 the Court of Appeal rules: “Where the court suspends imposition of sentence and places a defendant on probation, the defendant has not suffered a conviction for purposes of article II, section 4. In addition, where a probationer is ordered to serve time in a local facility because either imposition or execution of sentence has been suspended, he or she has not been imprisoned for the conviction of a felony, but has been confined as a condition of probation. (145 Cal.App.4th at 1475.) Accordingly, those confined in county jail as a condition of felony probation are entitled to vote.

Disposition: (145 Cal.App.4th at 1486):
Let the peremptory writ of mandate issue directing respondent, the Secretary of State, to issue a memorandum informing the county clerks and elections officials that the only persons disqualified from voting by reason of article II, section 4 are those who have been imprisoned in state prison or who are on parole as a result of the conviction of a felony.
Just as the Secretary of State with authority over county registrars was required to give discretion to registrars, the Corrections Standards Authority, with authority over local detention facilities, should give discretion requiring them to implement inmate voting rights, in accordance with C.C.R.’s Title 15 Crime Prevention and Corrections, Division 1. Board of Corrections. Subchapter 4. Minimum Standards for Local Detention Facilities. Article 6 Inmate Programs and Activities, Subsection 1071.Voting.

The facility administrator of a Type I (holding sentenced inmate workers) II, III or IV facility shall develop written policies and procedures whereby the county registrar of voters allows qualified voters to vote in local, state, and federal elections, pursuant to election codes.
Note: Authority cited Section 6030, Penal Code. Reference: Section 6030, Penal Code.

We call upon CSA to ensure implementation of policies that meet the spirit of the law protecting voter rights for incarcerated people in every county detention facility. Proyecto Common Touch et al. recommend the following:

1. Policies regarding the provision of written materials to inmates at the time they are booked into jail, whether as pretrial detainees or as felony probationers, informing them of their right to register and vote and ensuring they have access to absentee ballots.

2. Policies ensuring incarcerated people: have timely access to register to vote, such as making voter registration cards readily available so that they can be taken by inmates without the need to ask for them, much like registration cards are available in post offices, public buildings, and many other public places; making sure people have writing implements to fill out voter registration cards in the institution; andaccess to outgoing mail and legal mail.

3. Policies regarding posting notices in common areas in detention facilities informing inmates of their right to vote and of the steps necessary to register, apply for, and receive absentee ballots.

4. Policies ensuring incarcerated people have timely access to absentee ballots and writing implements needed to fill out the ballots, and that absentee ballots are treated as legal mail.

5. Policies permitting volunteers engaged in voter registration work access to prisoners in the facility, subject to reasonable security concerns, to solicit voter registration.

6. Policies regarding the showing of videos to prisoners informing them of their right to vote on a timely basis for elections.