I'm researching CA-Prop 17 which allows for parolees to vote.

I ask of every ballot measure that I vote on: Why can't this law be passed via the normal legislative processes? Why does it require a ballot measure?

I find plenty of moral arguments for the law, but I'm having a hard time tracking down a reasonable legal justification for it being a ballot measure and not following the standard legislative processes.

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    Why must the answer be it "requires" a ballot measure? They're simply different mechanisms. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 21:42
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    I really mean to say, "why is this being put forth as a ballot measure and not following the standard legislative process?" In general I ask that question of each ballot measure individually (so the answer is specific to the proposition). It's a qualifying question to me. As a matter of principle I'm biased towards supporting the normal legislative process. In this case there was a reason why the ballot measure was necessary, and that was key to my decision making process. Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 2:48
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    Oh I see what you meant. I edited to make it more clear, if that works for you. It appears constitutional amendments require a referendum in California specifically, but Joe doesn't want that info in his answer. Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 2:54
  • @AzorAhai--hehim In an abundance of pedantry, i will note that constitutional amendments in California require a referendum, but it is not true that constitutional amendments in general require a referendum in California. Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 2:12
  • @Acccumulation Yes, I know, that's why I said "in California specifically." I had a whole discussion with Joe about it, but he rejected my edit and the comments were deleted. An odd thing to get up in arms about, IMO. Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 2:25

1 Answer 1


Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution of California currently does not allow parolees to vote:

The Legislature shall prohibit improper practices that affect elections and shall provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony.

Giving parolees the right to vote would require an amendment to the constitution, which requires a ballot initiative.

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    electors == voters ?
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 15:58
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    @Barmar Yes. electors are the people who elect someone; they do so by casting a vote (and are, therefore, also voters). At least in BrE, voters is the more common term these days (by around 10:1 according to the OED). Probably the same in the US, except in constitutions as above and to refer – more narrowly – to members of each state's Electoral College who elect the President.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 17:51
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    @TripeHound: In AmE, "voter" is the normal/colloquial term, although it usually connotes that the person has actually voted (contrast "eligible voter" and "registered voter," which don't). "Elector" would normally be interpreted as "a member of the electoral college," but as you say, a statute or state constitution might use it to mean something like "eligible voter."
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 19:18
  • @TripeHound "Voters" may be more common in everyday BrE, but the list of those entitled to vote is the "Electoral register".
    – alephzero
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 15:31
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    This answer could be improved by highlighting why an amendment to the constitution would require a ballot initiative (the answer seems to be that the constitution of california requires this). Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 16:57

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