I have a criminal record. Can I register to vote in California?

Maybe. Recent changes in state law mean many people with records can vote in California![246]

In California, you lose your right to vote if you are: 1) currently incarcerated in state or federal prison (or in county jail awaiting transfer to state prison), 2) actively on state parole, OR 3) currently involuntarily committed because a judge found you mentally ill.[247] You automatically regain your right to vote after any of those circumstances ends—after you are no longer in prison, off state parole, and/or no longer involuntarily committed.

Unless you fall into one of these three categories, you have the right to vote! That means if you are on probation, PRCS, mandatory supervision, or any form of federal supervision (supervised release, probation, or parole) in California, you can vote (so long as you meet the other voter requirements like age and citizenship). You can also see the chart on PG. 68 to understand how your criminal record and supervision status will affect your voting rights.

the chart below explains if you can vote in California based on your supervision and custody status. If you fall under more than one category, and THE ANSWER IS “no” FOR EITHER ONE, then you cannot vote.

VOTING RIGHTS WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD IN CALIFORNIA

People with State Convictions

CUSTODY OR SUPERVISION STATUS

CAN I VOTE?

(Note: You must also be age 18 or older by the next election day, a U.S. citizen, and a California resident)

Currently incarcerated in state prison

NO

On state parole

NO

On probation (informal or formal)

YES

On post-release community supervision (PRCS)

YES

On mandatory supervision

YES

Currently incarcerated in county jail

IT DEPENDS –

Because jail time is a condition of your probation: YES

Because you were sentenced to serve time in jail: YES

Because of a felony “split sentence” that combines jail and probation time on Mandatory Supervision: YES

Because of an “AB 109” felony conviction with PRCS supervision to follow: YES

Because of a parole violation: NO

Because you have been convicted and sentenced of a felony and are waiting to be transferred to federal or state prison: NO

Pending felony charge(s)

(meaning you are charged, but not yet convicted)

YES

People with Federal Convictions

CUSTODY OR SUPERVISION STATUS

CAN I VOTE?

(Note: You must also be age 18 or older by the next election day, a U.S. citizen, and a California resident)

Currently incarcerated in federal prison

NO

On federal probation

YES

On federal supervised release

YES

On federal parole (applies to very few people)

YES

  1. 246

    See Cal. Elec. Code § 2101 (as modified by AB 2466, effective January 1, 2017); Cal. Secretary of State, Voting Rights for Californians with Criminor Records or Detained in Jail or Prison, http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california/who-can-vote-california/voting-rights-californians/.

  2. 247

    Cal. Elec. Code §§ 2101 and 2211(a)(3).