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ACSOLCalifornia

CA: Coalinga Patients Score Two Victories

Patients at Coalinga State Hospital scored two victories today — one in court and the other in the state legislature. As a result of the victories, the patients’ past votes as well as future votes in City of Coalinga elections are valid.

Specifically, a Fresno Superior Court judge ruled today against the City of Coalinga which had attempted to invalidate the patients’ votes in November 2017 which contributed to the defeat of a one cent sales tax. In its decision, the Court noted that the patients’ votes were valid because the patients both live in the City as well as registered to vote there.

Also in its decision, the Court disagreed with the City’s argument that patients could not register to vote there because they had been involuntarily committed to the state hospital. Further, the Court disagreed with the City’s argument that patients, if released, will move to a different location. The Court noted that the “Elections Code does not require, as far as residency for voting purposes goes, that the residence be the place from which the voter will never move. Residence can and does change.”

In the state legislature today, the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting, stopped Assembly Bill 2839 (AB 2839) which would have required patients to vote at their last known address before commitment.
Committee Chair Marc Berman criticized the bill as attacking a fundamental right, that is, voting. He said voters shouldn’t be forced to vote where they no longer live.

Vice Chair Matthew Harper noted that the City of Coalinga has benefited from its annexation of the state hospital for more than 10 years and questioned the motives of the City’s decision to challenge election results after the City failed at its attempt to increase the City’s sales tax.
Committee member Ian Calderon, whose district includes a large state hospital, noted that the Coalinga patients would be”directly affected” by a sales tax increase because they purchase food, clothing and electronics at the state hospital.

Committee member Dr.Shirley Weber stated that people should have the right to vote where they choose to vote. She criticized the City for its attempt to gerrymander votes due to the outcome of one election.

In addition to the committee members, a total of 12 people spoke in opposition to the bill. This total includes registrants, family members and representatives of the ACLU, CA Public Defenders Association, Disability Rights California and the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws.

“Today’s victory is due, in large part, to the efforts of registrants and family members who wrote letters and testified in opposition to a bill that would have disenfranchised hundreds of California voters,” stated Bellucci. “We thank them for their significant contributions.”

Join the discussion

  1. AO

    Thank you, Janice! This is a great victory! I’m glad the judge seems very impartial to the criminal status of the plaintiffs and treated this as something that could affect anyone.

  2. New Person

    Congrats!!!!!!!

  3. J

    KUDOS TO ALL!!!!!!! YEE HAW

  4. Laura

    A huge thank you to all who showed up in person and everyone who wrote letters.
    Congratulations to all!

  5. Agamemnon

    Congratulations Janice, and to all who stood up and refused to be be shamed into silence.

    I also applaud all legislators who were smart and brave enough to see the bigger picture and understand the large scale ramifications to all voter rights if this bill had passed.

  6. Nicholas Maietta

    Nice to see common sense!

  7. TG

    Excellent work! You should all be proud of yourselves.

  8. jo

    If Janice is comin’ for ya, ya better run and hide

  9. David Kennerly, The Government-Driven Life

    Mike St. Martin, a Detainee in the Coalinga gulag, called me gleefully this afternoon and gave me the good news. I recommended that he should next run for Mayor of Coalinga.

  10. David

    I think the City of Coalinga’s representatives and lawyers should be confined in a State hospital! There’s obviously something mentally deficient about their thinking and their basic moral judgement of right & wrong! And they clearly pose a danger to civil society.
    Big congratulations to Janice, to all who spoke up and wrote letters, and to the involuntarily committed residents of Coalinga State Hospital!! And thank God for some clear thinking lawmakers!!

  11. PR

    Congratulations great news.

  12. cool CA RC

    Keep more of those lawsuit coming.

  13. totally against public registry

    So excited and happy for these two victories- one small step for man, one giant leap for citizens on the registry! Wonderful!

    Thank you Janice…you do miracles

  14. Roger

    My thanks to those few out of 103,000 who sacrificed their time and money to stand up and speak up.

    If we only show up for issues that affect us directly, how can we expect others to show up?

    • Tim Moore

      Yes, many need to make the path incrementally, start by commenting here. Then maybe attend a meeting. Then, write a comment on an article or tell a friend about the trouble caused by the registry. The good thing is this is a frontier and everyone can make it forward step by step. The path is still being discovered, and seeming dangerous, but every step kind of makes the next less scary. And there is a land free of the registry at the end, We need leaders like you that have gone before. Thank you for stepping out and serving us all, Roger. There are many of us, and we can support each other in need. We don’t need to be alone.

  15. Laura

    I hear you Roger. However, remember these laws make it difficult for people and the families to show up. Example: If your spouse is the offender and you have kids then its highly possible that CPS is involved and CPS will not just let you get any babysitter and you go travel to show up; let alone to travel with your kids. If you are the offender and on probation or parole the offender may have so many restrictions placed on them that it may be dangerous to travel away. If you are the offender who is employed just trying to keep a job and maintain income is a problem. If your family member is incarcerated and your trying to take care of the family then money and time off of your job could be an the issue. If you are family to the offender who is not incarcerated you may be having to support them and then trying to stay afloat is also the issue. In my opinion no other crime has so many restrictions placed on the offender and then those restrictions also impacts the family and extended family that supports them so severely. I am in Southern California and was able to travel to Sacramento the week prior and seriously tried to come again…but just couldn’t work it out and am so grateful a dozen people were able to go. Thank you to all who could attend in person. Let’s all keep trying and not give up. If you can not go…write! It really can make a difference.

    • Janice Bellucci

      Thank you, Laura, for your comment. It is important for us to remember the struggles faced by many registrants and their families which you described so well. Thank you also for the reminder that those who cannot participate in person are able to make a difference by writing and sending letters. Letters provide an important foundation for those who are able to participate in person.

  16. SBC

    And there are some who may not be able to handle it emotionally. I am one of the some. I will increase my monthly donations. I do thank all of those who are able for all your hard efforts which benefits me. THANK YOU!

  17. AJ

    Coalinga voters (among others in CA) may not want to rest too comfortably that their votes will count: “California Is Disenfranchising Thousands of Voters Based on Their Handwriting” (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/05/california-is-quietly-disenfranchising-thousands-of-voters-based-on-their-handwriting.html)

    • TS

      Interesting voter article on handwriting. The kicker is the absentee CA military voter who sends their ballot in from far flung places around the globe who may have a bit of a harder time in fixing their ballot w/in the allotted time. There may need to be further considerations here Mr. Risher. Disenfranchising the military voter would lead to possibly some very hot water.

  18. Mr. TDAL

    Yet SCOTUS denied the people’s “civil” intent. The purpose indeed to impose affirmative disability via database. Machine need > human need. So they led the way.

    There is nothing ‘ubiquitous’ about a law on its face ex-post. Never would a people claim no public interest in drafting legislation applied to done behavior. This Art1,sec.10 “No Law”.

  19. Jonathan Hayward

    This is exciting news!!!!

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