ALBANY, New York — New York lawmakers have approved legislation extending full voting rights to people on parole.
The Democratic-led Assembly voted on the measure Wednesday, following passage in the Senate earlier this year. Supporters say the measure builds upon a 2018 executive order that has led to voting pardons for more than 60,000 New Yorkers on parole.
The measure goes further by fully restoring voting rights to all people released and under supervision and will have a major impact on minority communities, according to sponsor Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan.
“Parole disenfranchisement in New York was designed to prevent Black men from voting, and we see the legacy of these laws in the largely Black and Latinx parolee population today,” O’Donnell said. “With the passage of this bill, we are one step closer to dismantling the vestiges of segregation-era felony disenfranchisement in New York.”
“We are sending a clear message to the rest of the country: the right to vote is foundational to our democracy and should be expanded, not restricted,” he added.
Under current law, people convicted of felonies who have been released from prison cannot vote while they are under community supervision unless they have had the right restored by a certificate of relief, a certificate of good conduct or a pardon from the governor.
Many don’t register once their parole is up because they are unaware they’re eligible, supporters argue. The bill passed Wednesday ensures people on parole are notified of their right to vote.
The passage comes as many states with Republican-led legislatures across the country seek to restrict voting laws in the wake of the 2020 election. The bill now goes to Gov. Cuomo’s desk for his signature.
“The Assembly Majority knows that voting is a fundamental right of our democracy and is an integral part of community and civic engagement,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx. “This legislation would end the disenfranchisement of people who are actively working to rehabilitate themselves and reengage with their communities and public life.”
Story by Denis Slattery, New York Daily News.