Friday, May 9, 2014

Assemblymember Weber Applauds Court Decision Restoring Voting Rights to Thousands of Californians

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) said she applauds a ruling Wednesday that restores the voting rights of thousands of Californians.

“We have seen attempts to disenfranchise voters in other states, but never expected it in California,” Weber said. “I am gratified that the court supports our position and restored the voting rights of nearly 42,000 citizens.”

An Alameda County Superior Court Judge decision affirmed that thousands of California citizens were illegally stripped of their voting rights by California’s Secretary of State Debra Bowen two years ago.

In response to Bowen’s action, Assemblymember Weber introduced legislation, AB 938, that would have clarified the voting rights’ status of former offenders who were placed in the Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) and mandatory supervision programs under California’s Criminal Justice Realignment Act. The bill passed the Assembly, but stalled in the State Senate after aggressive lobbying by the Secretary of State’s office

With the passage of Proposition 10 in 1974, California voters affirmed that former offenders who have served the time of their sentences and completed the terms of their parole are allowed to have their voting rights restored. Wednesday’s ruling determined that offenders who were placed in PRCS and mandatory supervision programs fall into that category.

“No eligible voter should be kept from fulfilling their responsibility and civic duty due to an unjustified misinterpretation of the law.” Weber further said, “I will be working to resurrect AB 938 to make sure that point is absolutely clear in statute.”

Weber has introduced two related measures, AB 149 and AB 2243, that would ensure eligible ex-offenders are given accurate information about their voting rights. AB 149 was signed into law last year; AB 2243 has been passed by the Assembly and will be considered in the Senate later this year.

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