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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Can I still vote if I have a criminal conviction or I am in custody?

There is a lot of confusion about the impact of a criminal conviction on voting rights. To set the record straight, in California, some criminal convictions do not affect voting rights at all. Other convictions may temporarily take away your right to vote.

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I have a misdemeanor or felony conviction. May I still vote?

  • Yes. If you have a misdemeanor conviction, you can vote at all times. A misdemeanor does not affect your right to vote.

I have a felony conviction, may I still vote?

  • Yes, you can vote if you are not on parole or actually in prison. If you have a felony conviction, you can vote if you are on probation or once you have completed your post-release community supervision, or mandatory supervision.

If I am on probation for a felony may I vote?

  • Yes.

If I am currently on parole, may I vote?

  • No. You must have completed parole to vote. Once you complete your prison sentence, parole, or any community supervision, your voting rights are automatically restored. However, you still need to fill out a voter registration card in order to be able to vote. You have to register to vote at least 15 days before Election Day.

If I am in custody, may I still vote?

  • Yes. Many people in jail are eligible to vote as long as you meet the Voter Registration Requirements listed below:
    1. Are a citizen of the United States; Are a resident of California; Are at least 18 years of age or older as of Election Day;
    2. Have registered to vote at least fifteen (15) days prior to Election Day (the most important step);
    3. Are awaiting trial or on trial for any crime;
    4. Are in jail for a misdemeanor;
    5. Are on probation, even if you are in jail as a condition of your probation;
    6. Are awaiting a judge’s decision on a probation violation.

If you meet the above requirements, you have the right to vote!

To Register to Vote : go to www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote, or pick up a registration form at the DMV, post office or public library, or call your county’s registrar of Voters.

For more detailed information on Voting Rights, visit the http://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights-california-voter-information.             

©2012 Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office. All Rights Reserved.