Category: voting rights

Voting Rights Restored to Thousands of Californians

By withdrawing a challenge to the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated and some prisoners that was taken up by his predecessor, Secretary of State Alex Padilla  has sent the nation a message that California will not stand for discrimination in voting and that he will fight to protect the right to vote for all eligible Californians.Michael Scott

“We have always recognized that our voting rights are larger than the right to cast a vote – it’s about the struggle for formerly and in some cases currently incarcerated people to be respected as citizens,” said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a taxpayer plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“Our votes belong not just to us, but to our communities and families,” he said.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children filed a lawsuit on behalf of three individuals who had lost their right to vote, as well as the League of Women Voters of California and All of Us or None, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla

Secretary of State Alex Padilla

“Secretary of State Padilla is bucking a national trend in which voting rights are under attack,” said Lori Shellenberger, Director of the ACLU of California’s Voting Rights Project. “We are thrilled that this administration has effectively said ‘no’ to Jim Crow in California, and instead is fighting for the voting rights of California’s most vulnerable communities.”

The lawsuit charged then-Secretary of State Debora Bowen with violating state law when she issued a directive to local elections officials in December 2011 stating that otherwise-eligible Californians are ineligible to vote if they are on post-release community supervision or mandatory supervision, two new and innovative local supervision programs for people sentenced for low-level, non-violent felonies.

The plaintiff in the case was Michael Scott.

The California Constitution and state election laws state that only people imprisoned or on parole for conviction of a felony are ineligible to vote; it has long been clear that people on other forms of supervision – such as felony probation or drug-diversion – have the right to vote.

Dorsey Nunn

Dorsey Nunn

Last spring, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that Bowen’s directive illegally stripped nearly 60,000 of people of their voting rights. In spite of the judge’s determination, Bowen appealed and continued the fight to disenfranchise the formerly incarcerated, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color.

“Formerly incarcerated people should not be disenfranchised and have to fight for their voting rights. Restoration of these voting rights is long overdue and the League is pleased that California is leading the way to protect voting rights for all,” said Helen Hutchinson, President of the League of Women Voters of California.

Earlier this summer, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a bill that would have restored voting rights to about 40,000 citizens on probation or parole. In stark contrast, Secretary of State Padilla is sending a message to the rest of the nation that California will fight and eliminate the remnants of Jim Crow policies and will work to ensure that every eligible Californian has full and equal access to our democracy.

Courtesy of the Post News Group, August 8, 2015 (

Post Publisher Calls for New Voting Rights Movement

 Fifty years ago, Post Publisher Paul Cobb went South to join the fight for voter registration and engage in Civil Rights activity, taking a stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

 He became director of the Southern Elections Fund (SEF), now headed by Ben Jealous, which has helped register Black voters and support candidates to run for office throughout the South.

Reflecting on his experiences, Cobb called for a national mobilizing effort to defend and expand voting rights.

“The Post is going to establish a national computer-based voter registration monitoring system to help mobilize volunteers and financial and organizational support for indigenous on-the-ground movements that are operating now, such as Moral Monday in North Carolina,” said Cobb.

“We will soon launch a technology-based registration, legal and election strategy center that will work to overcome the restrictive obstacles that many conservatives are implementing in the 11 southern states, as well as others such as Michigan and Ohio,” he continued.

“We will seek accountability and support from political leaders, especially those running for president in both parties, to end voting restrictions for Blacks and Latinos.”

“This is an ideal issue that Democratic candidates for office could and should be raising. I plan to talk directly to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and members of the congressional Black Caucus,” he said.

“And Republicans, like Mitt Romney who opposed the Confederate flag, can take a stand and join the historic stand his father took when he supported King’s marches in Michigan. Presidential candidates must also now help bring down the Confederate-style voting booth curtains in the same manner as the flag removal if they wish to be relevant to the issues that affect millions of Americans.”


Post Publisher Paul Cobb

Cobb said The Post and El Mundo will be publishing national special editions that will be distributed to more than 40,000 Black churches and businesses to serve as a communications update on voting rights legal struggles and the strategies that communities are using to overcome voting barriers.

“We will help raise money to transport people to polling places and for organizations that can help people register to vote,” he said.

“If just 50 percent of the unregistered minorities in the 11 southern states of the old Confederacy were registered and voting, we would have a new Congress,” said Cobb. “And the health, environmental, educational and economic justice issues we care about would be acted upon,” he said.

“For example, with more than 600,000 unregistered Blacks in Georgia, all we would need to raise is about $4 million. Combined with a wave of volunteers, Georgia’s political script could be flipped on Election Day.

“Ask Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson about the value of registration and funds for voting . SEF Chairman Julian Bond and I helped raise money for him to get elected as Mayor of Bolton, MS., He rose from there to become chair of the Homeland Security Committee. Now, we must secure our homeland by registering, voting and raising funds to support organizations working for change.”

Those who are interested in working on this project should contact Paul Cobb at or call the Post at (510) 287-8200.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 7, 2015 (