Election Day is near and being jailed while awaiting in court doesn’t mean you can’t vote
Tuesday's midterm election is in the hands of voters across California — and even those in county jail could play a role in determining the outcome.
State law does not disqualify county inmates from voting if they're awaiting trial for crimes they're accused of committing. Nor are they prohibited from voting if they're serving misdemeanor or felony sentences in the county lockup or their jail time is a condition of probation.
Participation is typically low, however. During the 2016 presidential election, 79 ballots were submitted by Riverside County inmates — a small fraction of the approximately 3,700 people in custody, although circumstances and voter eligibility may vary among that overall population.
But nationwide, low participation isn't unusual, since inmates often mistakenly believe they've lost their right to vote, said Blair Bowie of the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington nonprofit that promotes, among other things, voting rights. "We find there's a lot of misinformation and a lot of people don't vote," she said. "It should be on the state to educate people."
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