Bay Area - Increasing Access to the Ballot: Jail-Based Voter Registration

Project ObjectiveAddressing the need to educate individuals held in custody in local jails, the project in partnership with the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office (ACPDO) Voter Outreach Increases Community Empowerment (VOICE) program and the Registrar of Voters began working towards providing individuals in custody with the knowledge and support necessary to register to vote. The project is working towards synthesizing research and experiences and highlighting resource gaps and best practices in order to communicate and contextualize learnings to journalists and fellow academics.


Screenshot of Possibility Lab front page

Possibility Lab

Visit the project website, Possibility Lab, here. The website features information on how to increase civic engagement for people in jail. 


Key Considerations

Delve into the challenges and solutions associated with jail-based voter registration and jail-based voting. Explore the key considerations for jurisdictions that want to explore the possibility of polling places within jails.

VOICE volunteers outside Santa Rita Jail

Media Coverage

Oaklandside: Prop. 17 passed 2 years ago. Now, 50,000 Californians on parole can vote

Established in 2016, the Public Defender’s Office’s VOICE (Voter Outreach Increases Community Empowerment) program has registered over 1,500 people at Santa Rita, around a third of whom have registered since Prop. 17 passed. 

University of California-Berkeley
Meredith Sadin

Sadin’s research focuses on political behavior, experimental methods and inequality. She explores the ways in which citizens use stereotypes about social class to form their policy preferences, select candidates, and make political decisions. Her recent experimental work examines the manner in which candidates’ social class backgrounds affect voters’ evaluations. Sadin is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Possibility Lab
Emily Swide

Emily Swide is a graduate of the Master of Public Policy program at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Most recently, she served as Director of Scheduling in the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom and Director of Scheduling and Advance for the Governor’s gubernatorial campaign. Before that, she worked for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on her re-election campaign and managed the successful campaign of Shanell Williams for Board of Trustees at City College of San Francisco.