Coalinga’s Proposed Sales Tax Measure Fails – State Hospital Inmates Sway Vote

FRESNO, CA (KMJ) – A majority vote by inmates at the Coalinga State Hospital sways the vote over the City of Coalinga’s proposed Sales Tax Measure C.

The tax hike was proposed to help prevent the loss of vital public safety services, and to protect other general services, saving dozens of jobs in the process.

The City of Coalinga would have enacted a general-purpose, one-percent sales tax, expected to generate $850,000 annually.

County Clerk Brandi Orth reported on Friday, November 17th that 177 valid ballots were returned by the 5th voting district – the Coalinga State Hospital Precinct 1001 – of which 127 were “no votes, enough to sway the results.

The sales tax measure failed ultimately failed…losing by 33 votes.

Coalinga had annexed the Coalinga State Hospital, giving inmates the right to vote in local elections after the passage of AB2466 in 2016.

Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to restore the voting rights of convicted felons serving time in county jails, or in this instance, a state run hospital housing many convicted sex offenders.

The bill that Brown signed reinstated the voting eligibility of felons on probation or under community supervision. It does not affect those in state or federal prisons.

AB2466 stems from California’s criminal justice realignment, which led to some people convicted of low-level felonies serving time in county jails.

Republican lawmakers say felons should not be allowed to cast ballots while serving a sentence, with Sen. Patricia Bates of Laguna Niguel saying it compromises the integrity of elections.

The bill’s author, democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego, says opponents don’t want to allow certain people to vote. She says civic participation can be a critical part of reducing recidivism.