MILLIONS OF CALIFORNIA VOTERS APPROVE PROPOSITION 17, RESTORING THE RIGHT TO VOTE TO NEARLY 50,000 CALIFORNIANS

California Becomes 20th State to Grant Right to Vote to All Citizens Who Have Completed Prison Terms

“Victory for Democracy and Justice,” Says the Yes On Prop 17 Campaign

For Immediate Release

November 3, 2020

Contact: Shay Franco-Clausen, media@yeson17.vote, 408-966-8157

SACRAMENTO, CA – In a major victory for democracy and the national movement to restore the right to vote to Americans with convictions, millions of California voters today approved Proposition 17, which restores the right to vote to nearly 50,000 fellow Californians who have completed their prison terms.

“This is a victory for democracy and justice,” said Taina Vargas-Edmond, executive chair of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and co-founder and executive director of Initiate Justice. “For far too long, Black and brown Californians have been excluded from our democracy. Today, California voters definitively righted a historic wrong. I’ll forever remember the phone call I received in 2017 from Rahsaan Thomas in San Quentin State Prison – who made it clear to me then, and has since made it clear to all Californians, that the first step to empowering people impacted by mass incarceration is to restore their right to vote. We’re grateful to the hundreds of organizations and individuals who supported this campaign, and to the millions of California voters who sent a clear message that our democracy needs everyone. 50,000 Californians now have their rightful say in our democracy.”

“Today marks the beginning of a new day for 50,000 California citizens, and a fresh slate for the state of California,” said Shay Franco-Clausen, campaign manager of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign. “We’re proud of the campaign that we ran – a campaign that was truly by and for the tens of thousands of Californians who had been disenfranchised.”

“Our country boasts that its citizens have a direct distinct voice in the conversation about its future,” said Jose Grano Gonzalez, a Los Angeles resident whose right to vote is now restored with the approval of Proposition 17. “And now thanks to millions of California voters, today we are that much closer to achieving that reality. This is a victory not just for me, but for my family, for our democracy, and for the future of our country. I’m grateful to the millions of my fellow Californians who used their voice, and voted to ensure that mine can be heard, too”

“With the passage of Prop 17, California voters have delivered a resounding victory for voting rights and for the rights of the formerly incarcerated,” said Abdi Soltani, executive committee member of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and executive director of the ACLU of Northern California.

“Californians voted to restore dignity, hope and a voice to communities like mine,” said Veronica Hernandez, a San Francisco resident whose right to vote is now restored with the approval of Proposition 17. “I’ve worked with at-risk youth in my neighborhood to help show them that they do matter and that there is hope for the future. Millions of California voters reinforced that message and showed countless Californians that their voice does count in their democracy.”

“Thank you to the millions of Californians who voted to move us closer to a more inclusive democracy,” said Esteban Nuñez, executive committee member of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and director of advocacy at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. “As someone who was disenfranchised because of a conviction, I know the power of this restoration. With this historic victory, 50,000 Californians will be seen and heard more fully as members of our communities.”

“I can now look at my fellow returning citizens who I mentor on a daily basis and tell them sincerely that they matter,” said Niki Martinez, a San Diego resident whose right to vote is now restored with the approval of Proposition 17. “Another barrier to the successful reentry of 50,000 California citizens into society has been torn down. Our voices in our democracy do matter. I am so grateful, and I cannot wait to cast my vote for the first time in the next election, and in every election that comes after it.”

“Millions of Californians voted to welcome their fellow citizens into our democracy,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, executive committee member of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “They put an end to a discriminatory policy that disenfranchised their neighbors – a disproportionate number of whom are Black, Latino, and Asian American. We’re excited for the momentum Prop 17’s approval will carry to the 30 other states that bar citizens living in the community from voting due to past convictions.”

“The power of the vote was ripped away from tens of thousands of my brothers and sisters, and thanks to millions of California voters that power has been rightfully returned,” said Betty McKay, a Bay Area resident whose right to vote is now restored with the approval of Proposition 17. “We sent an unequivocal message: that our voices matter and that our democracy needs everyone. Thank you to all the people who supported Prop 17, and who made this victory possible!”

“There are millions of people across this country who desperately want to participate in our democracy, but have been shut out because of racist and unjust laws,” said Brett Shears, executive committee member of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and founder of Vote Allies. “Thankfully, California voters rejected the status quo and opened the door to 50,000 of their neighbors by passing Prop 17. This bold action signals hopeful change is on the horizon. Our message to all the people for whom democracy is still out of reach: we see you, we hear you, and we’ll continue to fight for you.”

“Thank you for restoring the hope by restoring OUR right to vote,” said John Windham, a Waterford resident whose right to vote is now restored with the approval of Proposition 17.

California now joins 19 other states and Washington, D.C. in including all citizens who have completed their prison terms in their democracy.

Proposition 17’s approval comes after months protests demanding racial justice, as the nation continues to reckon with systemic racism and discrimination. The measure provided one of the first major opportunities since the protests erupted, in June, for millions of Americans to weigh in directly and in the affirmative on a tangible issue of racial justice; the overwhelming majority of those regaining their right to vote are Black, Latino, and Asian American.

This is the latest victory for democracy-expanding initiatives, and for the movement to restore the right to vote to individuals with past convictions. Over the past two years alone, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York all expanded access to the ballot for those with past convictions.

The “Yes” On Prop 17 campaign was a campaign by and for the 50,000 California citizens disenfranchised due to a law enacted at the height of Jim Crow whose right to vote will now be restored. From its inception, the campaign was based on the belief that these individuals, having completed their prison term, are entitled to have their voices heard in our democracy.

The campaign’s website highlights the personal stories of Californians who have been impacted by mass incarceration and who now will regain their voice in democracy. Read more here.

Proposition 17’s approval by California voters amends California’s constitution to ensure that any otherwise eligible voter who is not currently incarcerated in prison for a felony conviction can vote. The proposition was included on this year’s ballot for consideration from voters after ACA 6, also known as the Free the Vote Act, passed each chamber of the California state legislature with two-thirds votes and bipartisan support.

The Yes On Prop 17 campaign earned the support of a diverse and broad coalition that includes celebrities and activists like John Legend, Desmond Meade, Tom Steyer, and Ben & Jerry’s; state and national elected officials like Governor Gavin Newsom, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, former State Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Congressmembers Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, and Eric Swalwell; national advocacy groups like Black Lives Matter PAC, Color Of Change PAC, Human Rights Watch, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, R Street Institute, UnidosUS, and Voto Latino; law enforcement groups like Prosecutors Alliance of California, American Probation and Parole Association, Fair and Just Prosecution, and Law Enforcement Action Partnership; faith groups like Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, CAIR California, Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice, and PICO California; criminal justice reform groups like #cut50, The Justice Collaborative, The Ladies of Hope Ministries, REFORM Alliance, and The Sentencing Project; and labor unions like AFSCME, California Labor Federation, SEIU California, and UAW Western States – amounting to more than 400 endorsements by November 3. (The complete list of endorsers is below.)

**Media interviews are available upon request**:

  • Taina Vargas-Edmond, executive chair of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and co-founder and executive director of Initiate Justice. (Contact: taina@initiatejustice.org)
  • Esteban Nuñez, executive committee member of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and Director of Advocacy at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (Contact: enunez@antirecidivism.org)
  • Sean Morales-Doyle, executive committee member of the Yes On Prop 17 campaign and deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center of Justice at NYU Law. (Contact: prop17@marinopr.com)
  • Californians who have been impacted by mass incarceration can share their personal stories and why regaining their voice in our democracy with the passage of Proposition 17 is so important to them. (Contact: media@yeson17.vote)

Endorsements of Proposition 17 as of today:

Elected Officials:

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Ro Khanna, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Governor Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Assemblymember Marc Berman, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, Assemblymember David Chiu, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, Assemblymember Marc Levine, Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, Assemblymember Bill Quirk, Assemblymember Luz Rivas, Assemblymember Mark Stone, Assemblymember Shirley Weber, California State Board of Equalization Chair Malia Cohen, Candidate for State Senate District 15 Ann Ravel, former State Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de León, State Senator Jim Beall, State Senator Steven Bradford, State Senator Bill Dodd, State Senator Lena Gonzalez, State Senator Holly Mitchell, State Senator Scott Weiner, State Senator Bob Wieckowski, City of Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, City of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, City of Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine, City of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, City of San Jose Vice Mayor Charles “Chappie” Jones, City of Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker.

Cities and Counties:

City of Berkeley, City of Oakland, City of Long Beach, City of San Jose, City of West Hollywood, Alameda County, Los Angeles County, Marin County, Monterey County, San Francisco City and County, and Santa Clara County.

Activists, Celebrities, and Leaders:

John Legend, Desmond Meade, Tom Steyer, Snoop Dogg, Bryan Cranston, Kimberly Ellis, Brandon Flynn, Annie Gonzalez, Siva Kaneswaran, Lisa Lisa, Matt McGorry, Kendrick Sampson, and Earlonne Woods.

Community Organizations and Business Organizations:

ACLU of California, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, Active SGV, Activism Articulated, Advancement Project California, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, American Association of University Women, APLA Health, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Health Services, Asian Solidarity Collective, Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), Bay Rising Action, Ben & Jerry’s, Black Lives Matter PAC, Black Lives Matter – California, Black Lives Matter – Long Beach, Black Lives Matter – Sacramento, and Brennan Center for Justice.

California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Association of Nonprofits, California Calls, California ChangeLawyers, California Common Cause, California Environmental Justice Alliance Action, California Food & Farming Network, California Health Advocates, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California League of Conservation Voters, California NORML, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, CalPACE, Campaign Legal Center, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, CAUSE Action Fund, Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, Center for Employment Opportunities, Center on Policy Initiatives, Chicanxs Unidxs, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chispa, Chrysalis, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Color Of Change PAC, Community Coalition, Community Health Councils, Courage California, Democracy for America, Disability Rights California, Dolores Huerta Foundation, and Downtown Women’s Center.

East Bay for Everyone, East Bay Housing Organizations, Elect Justice California, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Empower to Change, End Citizens United, Equality California, Equal Justice Society, Evolve California, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, For The People, Fresno Sunrise Movement, Give a Beat, GLIDE Center for Social Justice, Greenlining Institute, Heal the Bay, HealthRIGHT 360, Housing California, Human Impact Partners, Indivisible CA: StateStrong, InnerCity Struggle, LA Forward, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, League of Women Voters of California, Let America Vote, Liberty Hill Foundation, Long Beach Forward, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, and Los Angeles Urban League.

MALDEF, Manhattan Beach for Justice, Marin Food Policy Council, Mid-City CAN (Community Advocacy Network), Mi Familia Vota, The Million Voters Project, Mothers Out Front California, Move in Unity Victory + Action (MUVA), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice California, National Center for Youth Law, National Urban League, Northern California Grantmakers, Oakland Rising Action, Ocean & Mountain, Our Revolution East Bay, Outten & Golden LLP, Pasadenans Empowering Parent Participation in Education Governance, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, PolicyLink, Power Action California, Public Advocates, Public Counsel, Right2Vote Campaign, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Rock the Vote Action Fund, and R Street Institute.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), San Francisco Foundation, San Francisco Rising, San Francisco YIMBY, Secure Democracy, Showing Up for Racial Justice – Bay Area, Showing Up for Racial Justice – Contra Costa, Showing Up for Racial Justice – Marin, Showing Up for Racial Justice – Sacred Heart, Showing Up for Racial Justice – San Diego, Showing Up for Racial Justice – San Francisco, Sierra Club California, Sierra Club San Diego, Silicon Valley DeBug, TechEquity Collaborative, TheatreWorkers Project, Time for Change Foundation, UnidosUS, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Way Bay Area, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, United Ways of California, UNITE-LA, VietRise, Vote Allies, Voting Rights Lab Action, Voto Latino, Western Center on Law and Poverty, We the People – San Diego, White People 4 Black Lives, Women’s Foundation of California, Working Partnerships USA, Young Women’s Freedom Center, and Youth Leadership Institute.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety Organizations:

#cut50, American Probation and Parole Association, A New PATH, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, California Families Against Solitary Confinement , California Prison Focus, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, CURYJ, Defy Ventures, Dignity and Power Now, Dream Corps, Drug Policy Alliance, Essie Justice Group, Fair and Just Prosecution, Fair Chance Project, Families United to End LWOP, Homeboy Industries, Homies Unidos, Hustle 2.0, Initiate Justice, Justice LA, Justice Reinvestment Coalition of Alameda County, La Defensa, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP), Northern California Innocence Project, People over Profit – San Diego, Prison From-TheInside-Out Inc., Prison Policy Initiative, Prosecutors Alliance of California, Re:Store Justice, Real Justice PAC, REFORM Alliance, Represent Justice, San Bernardino Free Them All, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, Smart Justice California, Success Stories Program, The Justice Collaborative, The Ladies of Hope Ministries, The Sentencing Project, Transformative In-Prison Workgroup, Transforming Justice Orange County, and UnCommon Law.

Faith Organizations:

American Friends Service Committee, Anchor of Hope, Anti-Defamation League, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Bend the Arc: South Bay, CAIR-California, California Council of Churches, California Religious Action Center (RAC-CA), Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice, Faith in Action Bay Area, Faith in Action East Bay, Faith in the Valley Merced, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Grace Cathedral, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Jewish Center for Justice, Jewish Community Relations Council, LA Voice, Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California, Multi-faith ACTION Coalition, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Jewish Women – Sacramento, People Acting in Community Together, PICO California, Sacramento ACT, Sacred Heart Community Service, San Diego Organizing Project, True North Organizing Network, and Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California.

Unions and Associations:

AFSCME, AFSCME 3299, Berkeley Tenants Union, California Association of Nonprofits, California College of the Arts Staff Union, California Faculty Association, California Federation of Teachers, California Labor Federation, California Medical Association, California Primary Care Association, California Psychological Association, California Public Defenders Association, Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, Contra Costa Labor Council, IBEW Local 11, IBEW Local 477, IBEW Local 569, IFPTE Local 21, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Los Angeles County Medical Association, Los Angeles Public Defenders Union Local 148, National Association of Social Workers (NASW) California Chapter, National Union of Healthcare Workers, San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, San Francisco Human Services Network, San Francisco Tenants Union, San Mateo County Central Labor Council, SEIU California, SEIU Local 1021, SEIU Local 221, SEIU Local 521, SEIU Local 721, SEIU-UHW, SEIU United Service Workers West, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, UAW Local 5810, UAW Western States, UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, UFCW Local 324, UFCW Local 770, UFCW Western States Council, United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, UNITE HERE Local 2, and Valley Industry & Commerce Association.

Media:

Los Angeles Times, The Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Sacramento Bee, Orange County Register, The Fresno Bee, Los Angeles Daily News, The Press-Enterprise, The Almanac, Daily Breeze, Daily Bruin, East Bay Times, El Tecolote, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Long Beach Press-Telegram, The Modesto Bee, Monterey County Weekly, Mountain View Voice, Palo Alto Online, The Press Democrat, Random Length News, Redlands Community News, San Bernardino Sun, San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Santa Barbara Independent, and Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Political Organizations:

Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club, Auburn Area Democratic Club, Bernal Heights Democratic Club, Beverly Hills Democratic Club, Black Women’s Democratic Club, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, Black Women Organizing for Political Action, Butte County Democratic Party, California Democratic Party, California Democratic Party Black Caucus, California Democratic Party LGBT Caucus, California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, California Young Democrats, Clairemont Democratic Club, Contra Costa Young Democrats, Democratic Alliance for Action of Santa Clarita, Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, Democratic Socialists of America – Fresno, Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles, Democratic Socialists of America – Orange County, Democratic Socialists of America – San Diego, Democratic Socialists of America – San Luis Obispo, Democratic Socialists of America – Santa Cruz, Democratic Socialists of America – Silicon Valley, East Bay Young Democrats, El Cerrito Progressives, Green Party of California, Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, Heart of L.A. Democratic Club, Libertarian Party of California, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Los Angeles County Young Democrats, Miracle Mile Democratic Club, Palos Verdes Democrats, Peace and Freedom Party, Peninsula Young Democrats, Pilipino American Los Angeles Democrats, Placer County Democratic Party, Point Loma Democratic Club, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Sacramento County Democratic Party, San Diego Democrats for Equality, San Francisco Eastern Neighborhoods Democratic Club, San Francisco Green Party, San Francisco Women’s Political Committee, San Francisco Young Democrats, San Mateo County Democratic Party, Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, Santa Clara County Democratic Party, Santa Clara County Libertarian Party, Santa Monica Democratic Club, Silicon Valley Stonewall Democrats, United Democratic Club, Valley Grassroots for Democracy, Ventura County Democratic Party, and West Hollywood Democratic Club.

Student Organizations:

Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, Bruin Democrats, Cal Berkeley Democrats, California High School Democrats, Cal Poly Democrats, Chico State Democrats, College Democrats at UCI, College Democrats of SDSU, CSU Project Rebound Consortium, Davis College Democrats, Project Rebound – Cal State LA, Project Rebound – Fresno State, Project Rebound – Sacramento State, Student Senate for California Community Colleges, UCSB Campus Democrats, Underground Scholars Initiative, Underground Scholars Initiative – UCR, Underground Scholars Initiative – UC Santa Barbara, Underground Scholars Initiative – UC Santa Cruz, and University of California Students Association.

Proposition 17 is sponsored by Yes On Prop 17, a campaign by and for Californians directly impacted by mass incarceration, and the following organizations: ACLU of California, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, Initiate Justice, League of Women Voters of California, Mi Familia Vota, Vote Allies, Voting Rights Lab Action, and White People 4 Black Lives. To learn more, visit yeson17.vote.

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