Nearly 60,000 felons will regain the right to vote after California’s secretary of state declined to appeal a court case that challenged their non-voting status.
When California shifted responsibility for low-level offenders from the state to counties under Gov. Jerry Brown’s “realignment” program a few years ago, two new classes of felons were created: one included convicts given mandatory county probation as part of their court sentences; the other, state inmates moved to county supervision after finishing their sentences.
Former Secretary of State Debra Bowen interpreted the law to mean those felons should not be eligible to vote. Critics sued, and a judge said Bowen was wrong. Now, current Secretary of State Alex Padilla has declined to appeal the ruling.
“To me, it was clear: Folks maintain their voting rights even in those classifications,“ Padilla said Tuesday after announcing his action in Oakland. “And by dropping the lawsuit, their voting rights are restored.”
Padilla’s decision means some 58,000 California felons will be able to vote once the settlement is implemented.