Voting rights advocates, Secretary of State will make announcement on Scott v. Bowen

Original article appeared in The Sacramento Bee

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The American Civil Liberties Union and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will make an announcement today about a lawsuit between their two offices, Scott v. Bowen, which deals with the voting rights of former prisoners.

The ACLU, along with other civil rights groups and the League of Women Voters, sued then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen in February 2014 over her policy that felons released to new community-level supervision programs under the state’s criminal justice realignment law could not vote.

Under the California Constitution, people in prison or on parole for a felony are ineligible to vote. But voting rights advocates argued that the Legislature had created the community supervision categories as an alternative to parole for low-level offenders, and they should be allowed to vote. Although an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in May 2014, an appeal was still possible after the decision.

According to court documents from the ACLU, the current exclusion affects about 58,000 former prisoners and other felons.

Neither party would say Monday what they’ll announce today, but all sides will be together in Oakland at 10 a.m.