Despite widespread opposition from law enforcement, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a bill that will allow thousands of felons in county jails to vote in California elections as part of an effort to speed their transition back into society. Through a representative, Brown declined to comment on the bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), who said it would reduce the likelihood of convicts committing new crimes. “Civic participation can be a critical component of re-entry and has been linked to reduced recidivism,” Weber said when the bill was introduced.
On Wednesday, Weber said California is setting an example at a time when other state’s are trying to limit voting rights. “I wrote AB 2466 because I want to send a message to the nation that California will not stand for discrimination in voting,” Weber said Wednesday after the bill was signed.
Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) criticized the approval of the legislation, which takes effect Jan. 1. Bates said the new law will undermine the integrity of elections by allowing people in jail to decide close contest. “It is very disappointing that felons still serving their sentences behind bars will now be able to vote since Governor Brown failed to veto this really bad bill,” Bates said in a statement.