jail cells
Jail cells. Photo via Pixabay

Backers of an initiative to allow felons in prison or on parole to vote have received authorization to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Monday.

What author Taina Vargas-Edmond has dubbed the “The Voting Restoration and Democracy Act of 2018” would eliminate existing restrictions on preregistering to vote, registering to vote and voting by persons while they are in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony

If the initiative is approved by voters, it would result in state prison costs of up to $1 million annually to register and provide ballots to prisoners and county election costs of a few hundred thousand dollars annually to register and provide ballots to prisoners and parolees, according to an analysis prepared by the Legislative Analyst and Department of Finance.

Valid signatures from 585,407 registered voters — 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — must be submitted by April 25 to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot, Padilla said.

—City News Service

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