Voting Rights for the Formerly Incarcerated

People with a Criminal History

California law allows people with a criminal history to register and vote. In addition to meeting the general qualifications to register, there are specific steps to take for those with a criminal history.

If you or someone you know is in jail in Santa Clara County, they may be eligible to vote. We suggest you inquire with the Deputy in your unit about how to participate.

You CAN register and vote if you are:

  • In county jail:
    • Serving a misdemeanor sentence (a misdemeanor never affects your right to vote)
    • Serving a felony jail sentence
    • Serving time as a condition of probation for a misdemeanor or felony conviction
    • Awaiting trial
  • On probation 
  • On parole
  • On mandatory supervision
  • On post-release community supervision
  • On federal supervised release
  • A person with a juvenile wardship adjudication

If you or someone you know is in jail serving a misdemeanor or felony sentence in Santa Clara County, they may be eligible to vote.  You can visit the Secretary of State’s website about who can vote in California and use their Restore Your Vote tool to determine eligibility.  

  • ​Voting While Incarcerated

Registrar of Voters’ Emergency Ballot Delivery Program 

The Registrar of Voters works with the staff at local jails and other short- and long-term residential facilities to share information with eligible residents on how to register to vote and obtain voting materials, including a Vote by Mail ballot. Read more about the Emergency Ballot Delivery Program on our website. We suggest you might also inquire with the Deputy in your unit about how to participate. 

Released from Custody Before You Receive Your Ballot?

If you are released from custody before your Vote by Mail ballot arrives in the mail, you can still vote. Just go to any Vote Center in Santa Clara County, or to the Registrar of Voters Office, and request a new ballot. You may also be able to request a replacement ballot be sent to you in the mail, if time permits. 

You CANNOT register or vote if you are:

  • Imprisoned in:
    • State prison
    • Federal prison
  • Currently serving a state prison felony sentence in a county jail or other correctional facility
  • Currently in county jail awaiting transfer to a state or federal prison for a felony conviction

Restoring Your Rights

Once you have completed parole, your right to vote is restored. However, your prior registration record is not automatically activated. You must reregister to vote by submitting a new Voter Registration form.

Visit the California Secretary of State’s website page Who’s Eligible to Vote in California​, found under the link “How Do I learn More About.” There you may read about voting rights and use their Restore Your Vote tool to determine your eligibility.

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