Plan Approved to Expand Voter Outreach

Mindful of many disenfranchised voters in county jails and within the probation system, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took further steps to expand voter education and registration for ‘justice involved’ individuals. The motion, co-authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, initiates a task force to register as many voters as possible in advance of the November election.

“There are still rampant misconceptions about voters’ rights,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “With 1 in 13 disenfranchised voting-age African Americans, voter ineligibility disproportionately affects people of color.”

The motion elevates and expands the County’s current efforts to assist the marginalized populations to become more civically engaged. Californians at least 18 years old are eligible to vote by mail from jail if they are awaiting trial on any charge or convicted of a misdemeanor. Some probationers are also eligible to vote, whether in or out of jail.

“With this motion, we are moving to lessen one of the daunting barriers faced by men and women being released from jail who are trying to get back on their feet and become successful members of society,” Supervisor Kuehl said. “Imagine trying to register for social security or rent an apartment without a personal identification card.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Board Chair Kuehl’s motion centers on improving civic and electoral engagement by expanding on and enhancing the County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s current program, Voting While Incarcerated. The motion would also ensure that youth and adults involved with justice system have access to vital records, such as birth certificates and I.D.’s, to help them reintegrate back into their communities.

“Ensuring that justice involved individuals understand their rights can reduce the likelihood that they will commit crimes in the future,” added Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

A report back is expected in advance of the November election.