Voting Rights

Voting Rights

Guarding your vote and advancing democratic participation

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Education

Education

Protecting and advancing equal opportunities for every student

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Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Ensuring constitutional rights apply to all regardless of race, ethnicity, or economics

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LGBT Rights

LGBT Rights

We fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

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Criminal Justice Reform

Voting Rights Project

Guarding your vote and advancing democratic participation

Voting allows each of us to have a say in what’s important to us and sends a message to politicians about what direction we, the voters, want to head. Voting or not voting impacts your life and lifestyle directly, and can have a huge effect on the future of our cities, state, and country. The ACLU of California advances democratic participation by:

  • reducing barriers to voter registration and participation
  • enforcing the Voting Rights Act to guarantee that every voter has the same chance to participate in elections, and
  • building an educated, participatory grassroots, especially among youth, the formerly incarcerated, and communities of color.

Many believe that California is a safe haven for voting rights, but our registration rate is the fifth worst in the nation. Californians do not have easy access to register, engage, and vote. Our state’s out-of-date registration and election systems are significant barriers to voter participation. The state does not have a voter database, there is a high rate of reported voting problems from people with disabilities, a high rate of unreturned military and overseas ballots, the highest rate of provisional ballots case, and a high rate of nonvoting due to registration or absentee ballot problems.

Click here for more details and many resources on voting rights in California.

Click here for FAQs on California’s new Motor Voter Law.

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Education Equity

Education is the key to strengthening our communities, economy, and democracy. The ACLU of California’s education equity work seeks equal rights and opportunities for all students.

For decades, the ACLU has worked on myriad civil liberties and civil rights issues in education. We have defended the rights of openly gay students, students of color, English learners, foster  youth, and other vulnerable student populations. We are seeking legislative and systemic change to ensure that students’ educational needs are met and to provide clear pathways for vulnerable students to return to traditional schools.

The ACLU also sought to address the disparity of opportunities and resources between schools and even within schools, and a decade ago, settled a landmark case, Williams v. California. We continue to monitor its implementation to ensure that the right of all students to have a clean school, safe learning space, adequate instructional materials, and qualified teachers is upheld in every single school in the state.

Additionally, we collaborate with educational professionals to create a curricular flow that prepares students of all economic, ethnic, and gender backgrounds for economic opportunities and social responsibilities.

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Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Justice Reform

The ACLU of California works to achieve a more just criminal justice system, one that operates fairly, with transparency and accountability, treating all who come into contact with it equally and respectfully regardless of race or wealth.

We work to bring justice to our justice system and maintain healthy and safe communities by:

  • reducing the number of people stuck in jail after an arrest simply because they can’t afford bail;
  • expanding alternatives to detention for people struggling with substance use disorders and mental health problems;
  • reducing overly harsh penalties so that punishment fits the crime; and
  • challenging police and prosecutorial misconduct and other governmental abuses of power.

California is a leader in the fight for criminal justice reform. In November 2014, an overwhelming 60% of California voters passed #Prop 47, a landmark ballot measure that reclassified six low-level drug and theft offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. By doing so, California substantially cut incarceration costs that rob funds from our public health and education systems, and invests those savings in keeping young people in school, mental health services, and services for crime survivors.

Prop 47 is just the first step. State and local leaders need to show respect for the will of the voters and fully implement the provisions of Prop 47, and make California the national leader in criminal justice reform efforts that it can and should be.

 

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