Wednesday, the New York Senate voted to automatically restore voting rights to people upon release from prison. New York is one of the few states that allows people on probation to vote but not those on parole.
The bill, S.830, now moves to the state assembly.
Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had the following comment:
“New Yorkers who have been released from prison are working, paying taxes, and raising families, but they have no voice in their government. Today’s senate vote brings them a step closer to regaining that voice.
“New York’s disenfranchisement policy is rooted in Jim Crow-era attempts to deny people of color the vote. Today, the law continues to impact people of color at much higher rates: nearly three-quarters of everyone on parole is Black or Latino.
“The state assembly should now pass the bill, and the governor sign it into law. New York’s democracy will be stronger for it.”
As a practical matter, most New Yorkers on parole have had the right to vote since April 2018, when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would begin using his pardon power to restore those rights individually.
S.830 would codify the restoration of voting rights so no one has to rely on a discretionary pardon to vote and reduce the administrative burden on the executive branch. And by providing a process for voter registration upon release, the bill would ensure that the legal restoration of voting rights actually leads to registration and voting by impacted New Yorkers.
More information on rights restoration efforts in New York is here.
More information on rights restoration nationwide is here.