New York Gov. Cuomo gives parolees the right to vote in his state

All felons who have served their time will now have their right to vote restored in New York.During a National...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 7:08 AM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 7:08 AM

All felons who have served their time will now have their right to vote restored in New York.

During a National Action Network press event on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he signed an executive order giving parolees the right to vote.

"I proposed a piece of legislation ... this past year that said parolees should have the right to vote," he said during the event. "The Republican Senate voted down that piece of legislation, which is another reason why we need a new legislature this November. But I'm unwilling to take no for an answer. I'm going to make it law by executive order and I announce that here today."

In a press release announcing the order, Cuomo's office said the reform will restore the right to vote upon release from incarceration and "reverse disenfranchisement for thousands of New Yorkers."

What happens to a person convicted of a felony varies from state to state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York joins 14 states and the District of Columbia, where they lose their rights only while incarcerated, the conference says.

According to the governor's office, there are roughly 35,000 individuals on parole in New York who cannot vote.

This is not the first executive order Cuomo has issued on criminal justice reform. In July 2015, Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 147, which "appointed the New York state attorney general as special prosecutor in matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians in deadly encounters with law enforcement."

Cuomo tweeted after the announcement, saying "It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have re-entered society."

Other states are looking into changing rights for former felons.

In November, Floridians will vote on whether former felons should more easily regain their voting rights.

According to one estimate, by the nonprofit Sentencing Project, 6.1 million people are forbidden to vote around the nation because of a felony conviction. Florida is home to a quarter of them.

If the referendum passes, it could have profound implications for the critical swing state. The 2000 presidential election, for instance, was decided by 537 votes in Florida.

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