Inmates at San Quentin State Prison just cast their votes for president, and for Donald Trump, it’s a good thing those votes won’t count.
Trump was trounced by Hillary Clinton in a mock election staged by the California prison’s inmate-run newspaper, San Quentin News. Newspaper staffers set up a polling place inside San Quentin’s yard and handed out ballots with choices for president, senate and various ballot initiatives. The ballot even came with a voter guide on the back.
Clinton won in a landslide, capturing 79 percent of the nearly 500 votes cast by general population inmates. Trump secured a paltry 9 percent of the vote, less than Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
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First Lady Michelle Obama even received two write-in votes.
San Quentin News staffers also managed to get additional ballots to more than 100 of the 747 men on San Quentin’s Death Row. Clinton also won handily among death row inmates, taking 63 percent of the vote. Trump again had a poor showing, capturing just 15 percent of death row votes. He did, however, manage to eke out a second place finish over Stein, by a two vote margin.
For many inmates, it was the first time they ever voted.
“When the idea first came up about creating a mock election for the men at San Quentin, it struck me how I never myself had the opportunity to vote,” San Quentin News Executive Director Arnulfo T. Garcia told San Quentin News reporter Juan Haines. “That is until I was on the run in Mexico, when I went to the polls and voted for the president of Mexico. That gave me a sense of freedom and power that I know the men felt, walking up to the booth to cast their ballots.”
Perhaps the most interesting result of the mock election was the outcome of Proposition 62 among death row inmates, which would repeal California’s death penalty.
Despite facing the near-certain fate of a state-sanctioned execution, 42 percent of death row inmates voted against the measure that could spare their lives. General population inmates were much more adamant on whether they supported the ballot measure, with just 9 percent choosing to keep capital punishment on the books.
While many of San Quentin’s inmates may never cast a real ballot, UC Berkeley journalism professor William J. Drummond, who volunteers with San Quentin News, said the election was a good lesson in the responsibility of citizenship.
“The prisoners have to start some place, and voting is an excellent place to begin, even if the results don’t count,” Drummond told Haines.
To read San Quentin News Reporter Juan Haines’ story about the election, click here.
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