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Action ItemsCalifornia

CA: May 9 Hearing Scheduled for Bill That Would Disenfranchise SVP’s

The Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee is scheduled to hear AB 2839 which, if passed, would disenfranchise hundreds of men who are otherwise eligible to vote and have been designated sexually violent predators at Coalinga State Hospital.

The hearing will take place on May 9 at 9 a.m. in Room 444 of the State Capitol.

“ACSOL encourages its members to attend this hearing in order to protect the voting rights of almost one thousand registrants,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.

AB 2839 was introduced by Assembly member Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) who represents a district that includes both the City of Coalinga as well as Coalinga State Hospital. Specifically, the bill would require Coalinga patients to vote in the location where they lived prior to their commitment to the state hospital.

“Because many patients at Coalinga Hospital have been incarcerated or civilly committed for 30 years or more and they are likely to live the rest of their lives at the hospital,” stated Bellucci. “If they are not allowed to vote in Coalinga city elections, they will be disenfranchised.”

Dr. Arambula introduced AB 2839 after patients at Coalinga State hospital defeated a City of Coalinga measure that would have increased city sales tax by one percent. The Coalinga State Hospital patients pay Coalinga City sales tax when they purchase items at a hospital store and restaurant.

The legislation also follows a lawsuit filed by the City of Coalinga against Fresno County which attempts to invalidate past votes taken by Coalinga patients as well as to prevent future votes in city elections. A court hearing on this matter is scheduled in Fresno Superior Court on April 27.

AB 2839

Join the discussion

  1. Joe

    “Existing law defines a “residence” for voting purposes to mean a person’s domicile, and provides that the domicile of a person is that place in which his or her habitation is fixed, wherein the person has the intention of remaining, and to which, whenever he or she is absent, the person has the intention of returning.”

    If they have to vote at their last place of “residence”, would they not have to register said residence annually with the law enforcement agency in that jurisdiction within 5 days of their birthdays – in person? And if they don’t show up? Felony Failure to Register. And if they attempt to register a residence where they do not actually reside? Felony Failure to Register.

    Oooohh… this is so confusing.

    Actually, I hope this passes. While a short term set back for those currently effected, in the long run it clearly shows that this “hospitalization” is nothing but prison incarceration.

    • Timmmy

      Well, I would say remove their voting power, but exempt them from all taxes then. Simple

  2. TS

    Even if CSH residents were deemed homeless, they could still vote in CA which means they could still vote within CSH for election matters on the ballot in Coalinga and Fresno County as I read it. (Both state law and judicial rulings support the right of homeless persons to register to vote. They may register to vote as long as they maintain a fixed location where they can receive mail and at which they can be properly assigned to a precinct. (Elections Code section 2027))

    I think Joe has a good point too about residences and registries (Reference The Elections Code which requires you to register to vote using the address of your domicile in the county in which you reside. “Domicile” is defined as the place where you live, where your habitation is fixed, and where you intend to remain and return to whenever you are absent from it. (Elections Code sections 321, 349, 2020-2034)).

    This could pass, but would be immediately challenged in court and an injunction could be placed preventing enactment.

    What the legislator is trying to do is the military home of record attempt where you declare your home of record in another state. The military member intends to return there upon retirement and can use it for tax and receiving mail purposes in the meantime. Of course, the military member is voluntarily stationed out of their home of record, whereas CSH residents are not.

  3. cool CA RC

    So, this mean that Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) who REALLY DOES NOT represents Coalinga State Hospital.

  4. Tim Moore

    This is democracy in reverse. Now the politicians will disenfranchise voters if they don’t like the way they vote. Why are we investigating Putin and Russia meddling in our democracy? Voter suppression is a home grown affair. So called sex offenders are test cases for many more oppressive laws to come.

  5. Tim Moore

    Hopefully, the state can’t make special voting laws for differing groups of voters. That’s Jim Crow again.

  6. Duane Webb

    Civil Commitment is just another term for ‘Indefinite Detention’ i.e. Unconstitutional, False Imprisonment, Wrongful Incarceration…however you look at it it’s a crime against a U.S. Citizen.

  7. Agamemnon

    If they don’t want the registrants to vote in their county, then maybe they shouldn’t involuntarily intern them in that hospital for an indeterminate amount of time, epsecially after they have already served their sentences.

    • Tim Lawver

      That scotus in Kansas V. Hendricks upheld civil commitment against ex post attack claiming neither Punitive in intent of effect reflects just how much our democracy is……..


  8. totally against public registry

    I will be there at the court, Janice. This is such an injustice to these citizens, who already have served their sentences. The hospital administration stopped only access to the outside world when they took away patients’ electronics and now step by step they want to disenfranchise these citizens to nothingness. This is really crazy. No one deserves to be involuntarily committed to a hospital [maximum security prison] for the rest of their lives.

  9. totally against public registry

    Janice, do you advise writing to Chair of Elections and Redistricting Committee Marc Berman and his Vice Chair Matthew Harper? And if so, can you provide a sample letter. Thank you

    • Janice Bellucci

      As requested, below is letter sent to Assembly Elections Committee today. Please use this as a model, but do not copy it word for word. Also, be sure to include your name and address. Letters can be sent by FAX to 916-319-2194.

      Senator Marc Berman, Chairman
      Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee
      1020 N. Street, Room 365
      Sacramento, CA 95814

      Re: Assembly Bill 2839 – OPPOSE

      Dear Chairman Berman:

      The purpose of this letter is to request that you and all members of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee vote “NO” on AB 2839. That bill is currently scheduled to be considered by the Committee on May 9.

      As currently written, AB 2839 would have the effect of preventing up to 1,300 patients at Coalinga State Hospital from voting in city, state and federal elections. That is because the bill would require patients to vote at “the last known address of the person before his or her commitment” to Coalinga State Hospital.

      The requirement for a patient to vote at his or her last known address prior to commitment defies logic for several reasons. First, most patients at Coalinga State Hospital have been incarcerated or confined for 20 years or more and are no longer legal residents at their last known address. Therefore, it is unlikely that they would be able to vote at those addresses.

      Second, most patients at Coalinga State Hospital will reside at that hospital for the rest of their lives. Therefore, if they are unable to vote in elections where they currently reside, they will be unable to vote in any election. Third, all patients at Coalinga State Hospital are directly affected by votes taken pertaining to the City of Coalinga, which annexed the hospital more than 10 years ago, such as the City’s recent failed sales tax increase. If the City of Coalinga’s tax increase had passed, the patients would have paid more for the goods and services they purchase at the hospital’s convenience store, fast food restaurant, copy center, barber shop and other related businesses.

      Thank you for your attention to this important matter. As stated above, we strongly urge that all members of the Elections and Redistricting Committee vote “NO” on AB 2839.

  10. Roger

    Just as we all appreciate people who support us registrants by doing things like writing letters, we would love to have all our fellow CA registrants and supporters join us on May 9 to fight for the voting rights of the most hated group of sex offenders in our society: those under civil commitment and labeled Sexually Violent Predators.

    WHY, your ask, should I bother supporting a bill that won’t affect me?

    I am coming because I know other bills in the future WILL affect me and I believe all of us should support ACSOL’s actions on ALL bills.

    If we pick and choose only issues that directly affect ourselves, it dilutes our voice! What if no one fought a bill that would harm you personally? That would hurt.

    These guys have no voice and only despair. Let’s give them a voice.

    If we don’t, then what right do we have to complain when others refuse to help us?

    We can’t do it alone! Please make the sacrifice to come. I will.

    And we DO make a difference. A few hours ago we helped defeat a terrible bill!

    • RC CA cool

      Roger, That’s right !!

      Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.

      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Jew.

      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    • Tim Moore

      Too far, and I don’t have the money. It is not the issue of whether it affects me or not. I trust you guys when you say we need to do this. Just because I complain does not mean I take no action at all. For me I can only travel to one or two of these events per year if it involves travelling outside my county. I am going to the murder case in LA, decided that before this came up. By the way, anyone interested in carpooling from Orange or San Diego Counties, Gwen and I have space for some more riders.
      Maybe you guys can find a community organizer to mobilize people. 80,000 registrants in California who are not incarcerated and thousands around the Sacramento area and about two dozen show up? And you influenced the committee? That’s a good return. If everyone can be organized to contribute something to this cause, then this registry is history.

      • Janice Bellucci

        Tim and others – The press conference on May 8 has been postponed. You are welcome to attend the pre-preliminary hearing that morning, but please know that we plan to return on a later date that is yet to be determined.

    • totally against public registry


      Very well said. Thanks. I will be there.

  11. Eric Knight

    Let me get this straight: The city of Coalinga annexed the prison hospital specifically for the purpose of taxation, not just for sales tax purposes but for the actual property taxes that Coalinga Hospital pays. That means the residents of that property are allowed to vote if they aren’t on probation or parole.

    In short, this is the same thing as the city annexing a housing tract or an apartment complex. They get the taxes with the properties, but the people who live in the tract or complex are also citizens of the city and their votes count. Exact same process as for the prison hospital.

    All one has to do is to show the committee the reasons that Coalinga gave for annexing the prison hospital, which will expose the tax issue. Just obtain the paperwork behind this acquisition. This will be enough to invalidate the issue at the legal committee in either branch of the CA legislature.

  12. Bob Sterling

    Hello Janice, it’s been several years since my last communication. I have followed your work and I thank you for it….
    I am an SVP. I have registered once every 90 days for the last 15 years. Since I know many of the inmates at Coalinga from the Atascadero days, I can tell you that they take their voting privileges seriously. Perhaps the people of Coalinga city might find lobbying for votes among the population better than alienating them by trying to disenfranchise.
    In spite of potential media presence, I have decided that I will be there on may 9th.
    Bob S.

  13. totally against public registry

    Janice, do you know what happened on the 27th with law suite against Fresno County?

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