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Proposed Ballot Initiative Would Allow Felons in California Prisons to Vote

An inmate in the Offender Mentor Certification Program at Solano State Prison listens during class. (Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

An inmate in the Offender Mentor Certification Program at Solano State Prison listens during class. (Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Felons in state prison would be allowed to vote in California elections under a ballot measure proposed Wednesday by a group representing prisoners, their families and supporters.

The constitutional amendment was filed on Wednesday by Initiate Justice, an Oakland-based group that seeks criminal justice system changes for about 2,500 people behind bars and 1,000 supporters on the outside, according to founder and executive director Taina Vargas-Edmond.

“They (prisoners) don’t lose their citizenship when they become arrested,” Vargas-Edmond said. “I don’t believe they should lose their access to their democracy.”

The group needs 585,407 valid voter signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, a difficult task for a largely grass-roots effort.

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