Today is election day. Today California voters will cast their ballots in a primary election that determines the nomination of candidates for offices from Insurance Commissioner to U.S. Senator as well as the outcome of several ballot propositions.
Because it is a mid-term election, the percentage of people expected to vote is low, perhaps as low as 30 percent. Missing from the number of people who vote today, however, may be many registrants, some of whom have been misinformed and told that they are not eligible to vote.
For example, a probation officer recently told a registrant released from federal prison a few months ago that he was not eligible to vote today. The probation officer repeated this statement even after the registrant presented the officer with a copy of the law which clearly states that the only persons prohibited from voting are those on parole (not probation) or imprisoned for a felony.
Fortunately, the self-educated registrant disregarded the misinformation he received from the probation officer and voted via the mail-in ballot he had requested and received..
The question is how many registrants listened to that probation officer or another probation or parole officer and did not vote because he was told he was not eligible to vote? Are similar statements made by parole or probation officers merely a mistake or is it something more? Are parole and probation officers deliberately deceiving registrants because they don’t want registrants to vote?
The answer to that question may be found at Coalinga State Hospital, where registrants experienced an anti-registrant bias during last year’s election. Many of the registrants at the hospital were misinformed when they were told that they were not eligible to vote. Some of the registrants disregarded this misinformation and registered to vote. Those registrants were later discouraged by hospital staff to cast their votes.
To make matters worse, the votes actually cast by registrants at Coalinga State Hospital in that election were challenged in court. That is, the City of Coalinga attempted to nullify the patients’ votes because the patients’ votes helped to defeat the city’s proposed sales tax increase. The City’s attempt to nullify the registrants’ votes was stopped, however, doing so required considerable resources including legal representation at several court hearings.
Today is election day. And the next election, a general election, is only five months away — November 6, 2018.
Between now and then we encourage all registrants who are not on parole or incarcerated for a felony to register to vote. We encourage the same registrants to actually vote on November 6. Finally, we encourage all registrants who are misinformed about their eligibility to vote to contact this organization, ACSOL.
If government officials continue to misinform registrants about their right to vote, ACSOL will lead an effort to pass a Voting Rights Act to protect a fundamental right of registrants, that is, the right to vote.
— by Janice Bellucci
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