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Indybay Feature
Sat Feb 15 2014
Lawsuit Challenges Secretary of State's Disenfranchisement of Recently Released Convicts
Sat Feb 15 2014
ACLU Charges State with Illegally Denying the Right to Vote to Tens of Thousands of Voters
On February 4, the ACLU of Northern California and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) filed a lawsuit charging the state with unconstitutionally stripping tens of thousands of people of their right to vote. According to the lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the state’s actions clearly violated state law when the secretary of state issued a directive to local elections officials in December 2011 asserting that people are ineligible to vote if they are on post-release community supervision or mandatory supervision. These are two new and innovative forms of community-based supervision created under California’s Criminal Justice Realignment Act for people recently incarcerated for low-level, non-violent, non-serious crimes.

“The Secretary of State should be working to increase voter participation, not to undermine it,” said Michael Risher, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “California has dismal rates of voter registration and participation. The Secretary of State is making this even worse by disenfranchising tens of thousands of California citizens who are trying to re-engage with their communities.” The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three people who have or will soon lose their right to vote, along with the League of Women Voters of California and All of Us Or None, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families.

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