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Send my absentee ballot to the county lock-up

Mighty Matt:

We have an election coming up. Which gets me to wondering, can felons vote in California?

— Good Citizen, Vista

When was the last time you saw a candidate detour the campaign bus to Folsom or Chino to stump for that all-important car-thief vote? On election day, nobody in a federal or state lockup in California will be fretting about what time the polls close. Convicted felons lose lots of rights and privileges, including the right to vote until they've served their prison time and successfully completed their term of parole.

Until 1966, if you robbed a liquor store, say, or rustled some cattle (were convicted of an "infamous crime," in the words of the state constitution), California told you to take your ballot and stuff it. You'd never vote again. You were thought to be "a threat to the integrity of the elective process." Personally, there are a couple of Cabinet members that scare me more, but anyway, in 1976, Sacramento decided that only people still serving a sentence or still on parole were barred from voting.

But let's say our friend N. Carcerated, legally registered to vote and unsullied by a felony conviction, is late for class one day. He spots a nice little Mustang at the curb and figures that will solve his problem. The cops put the arm on him and take him downtown for booking. Soon enough N.'s sitting in the fish tank with the rest of the day's catch, eating dinner off a plastic tray and calling collect to all his relatives to snivel about raising bail. If none of the Carcerateds can come up with the dough, can N. legally cast a ballot? If on election day he's not yet been convicted of appropriating the Mustang, he certainly can. So certain county jail residents would be eligible to vote. As you can imagine, though, it's not a high priority. One M.A. pal, a former sheriff's deputy, says that in six years of duty in county lockups, no one ever asked for an absentee ballot.

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Mighty Matt:

We have an election coming up. Which gets me to wondering, can felons vote in California?

— Good Citizen, Vista

When was the last time you saw a candidate detour the campaign bus to Folsom or Chino to stump for that all-important car-thief vote? On election day, nobody in a federal or state lockup in California will be fretting about what time the polls close. Convicted felons lose lots of rights and privileges, including the right to vote until they've served their prison time and successfully completed their term of parole.

Until 1966, if you robbed a liquor store, say, or rustled some cattle (were convicted of an "infamous crime," in the words of the state constitution), California told you to take your ballot and stuff it. You'd never vote again. You were thought to be "a threat to the integrity of the elective process." Personally, there are a couple of Cabinet members that scare me more, but anyway, in 1976, Sacramento decided that only people still serving a sentence or still on parole were barred from voting.

But let's say our friend N. Carcerated, legally registered to vote and unsullied by a felony conviction, is late for class one day. He spots a nice little Mustang at the curb and figures that will solve his problem. The cops put the arm on him and take him downtown for booking. Soon enough N.'s sitting in the fish tank with the rest of the day's catch, eating dinner off a plastic tray and calling collect to all his relatives to snivel about raising bail. If none of the Carcerateds can come up with the dough, can N. legally cast a ballot? If on election day he's not yet been convicted of appropriating the Mustang, he certainly can. So certain county jail residents would be eligible to vote. As you can imagine, though, it's not a high priority. One M.A. pal, a former sheriff's deputy, says that in six years of duty in county lockups, no one ever asked for an absentee ballot.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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