You lose a lot when serving time in California’s county jails, but not necessarily your right to vote.
Alameda County public defenders are handing out voter registration forms to their clients, letting jail inmates know that even though they’re behind bars, they might be eligible to vote.
“I got arrested like two days ago in Napa County over some petty theft, something stupid,” said Rashon Davis of Oakland.
While Davis was sitting in jail, he heard the pitch.
“They came in and they gave us papers talking about if you guys want to vote, you don’t have to, you have a choice to,” he said.
Davis, who’s never voted before, was stunned that he could register to vote while behind bars.
“That’s my first time I ever seen something like that I didn’t even know they could do that,” he said.
In California, federal and state prison inmates and parolees cannot vote. But if you’re serving time in a county jail or awaiting trial in jail, you can cast a ballot. The same applies for convicted felons who have completed their parole.
“That’s good, that’s good you know what I mean! I always wanted to vote,” said Willy Villanova of Oakland.
Willy Villanova says he spent more than four years in federal prison for smuggling North Koreans into the US.
“I finish my probation, halfway house all my programs,” Villanova said.
He didn’t know that he could vote until we told him.
“If I get my voice out there heard, I’m pretty sure my vote will count.” Villanova said.
Thanks to the Alameda County Public Defender’s voter outreach program, 425 inmates can have their voices heard on Election Day.
“You have this power, it has not been taken away from you, you should exercise it,” said Brendon Woods, Alameda County Public Defender.
The last day to register to vote here in California is October 22.