City Sues to Void Election Results Tipped by Felons

In November 2017, a group of felons at the Coalinga State Hospital helped tilt the outcome of a campaign to increase the city’s sales tax. Now, the city is suing to void the results of the election, which it says resulted in dozens of Coalinga employees losing their jobs.

The city filed suit against Fresno County on Dec. 14. It claims patients of the facility, who organized a successful lobbying effort against the one-cent sales tax measure, were not legally allowed to vote in the election.

According to the suit, Coalinga’s patients are technically residents of the counties they lived in prior to their incarceration. This would make them ineligible to vote in Coalinga. But Coalinga annexed the hospital years ago, which allowed it to increase its population. For this reason, the inmates -- many of them violent sexual offenders -- were considered residents of the city.

The issue will now have to be determined by the courts. A hearing is scheduled for April 16. It is coming up for the first time now because of a bill signed into law in 2016 that restored voting rights to thousands of felons.


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