Proposition 17 Endorsed by Major California Leaders and Organizations Showing Solidified Support for Restoring Voting Rights
SACRAMENTO – Today, Yes On Prop 17 announced endorsements from Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, the California Democratic Party, Equality California, and SEIU California for Proposition 17, the November 2020 statewide ballot measure that will amend the state’s constitution to allow Californians who have completed their prison term to vote.
In endorsing Proposition 17, Lt. Governor Kounalakis said “As Lt. Governor of California, I believe making California the 17th state in the nation to restore voting rights upon release from prison is how we fight for equity and inclusion. The disenfranchisement of 50,000 Californians who have completed their prison sentence is part of historic, systemic racism that we now have the opportunity to correct. I support Prop 17 because I believe democracy must include us all.”
California’s constitution restricts voting rights for people who have completed their prison term. As a result, nearly 50,000 Californians can’t vote even though they have returned home to raise families, work jobs, pay taxes, and contribute to society. And because of biases in the criminal justice system, poor people and people of color are more likely than others to be convicted of crimes and to lose their voting rights. Three out of four people leaving California prisons are Black, Latino, or Asian American. This means California’s constitution disproportionately silences the voices of those that are already marginalized.
With today’s endorsement of Proposition 17, Lt. Gov. Kounalakis joins the growing number of supporters for allowing Californians who have completed their prison term to vote, including Gov. Newsom, the California Democratic Party, Equality California, and SEIU California. See the full list of endorsements here.
California currently lags behind 19 states and Washington, D.C., all of which either automatically restore voting rights upon release from prison or never take voting rights away. In the past two years, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York have expanded access to the ballot for people with past convictions. And just a few weeks ago, Iowa’s Republican governor signed an executive order restoring voting rights to tens of thousands of Iowans previously barred from voting for life.
Proposition 17 is sponsored by Yes On Prop 17: ACLU of California, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Brennan Center for Justice, Initiate Justice, League of Women Voters of California, Mi Familia Vota, Vote Allies, Voting Rights Lab, and White People 4 Black Lives. To learn more, visit yeson17.vote.