Thousands of parolees now have the right to vote following an executive order signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo signed on Wednesday the executive order, which restores voting rights to an estimated 35,000 men and women on parole in the state. The reform restores the right to vote upon release from incarceration and “reverses disenfranchisement for thousands of New Yorkers,” according to Cuomo.
According to Cuomo, parole voting restrictions have a disproportionate impact on New Yorkers of color, with African Americans and Hispanic New Yorkers comprising 71 percent of the population so disenfranchised. New York is the 15th state to enact such legislation allowing parolees the right to vote.
"I am issuing an executive order giving parolees the right to vote. It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt and have re-entered society," Cuomo said in a statement. "This reform will reduce disenfranchisement and will help restore justice and fairness to our democratic process. Withholding or delaying voting rights diminishes our democracy.
“Additionally, the current law keeping people on parole supervision from voting is internally inconsistent with New York's approach to voting for people serving sentences of probation. People on probation never lose the right to vote, but many county election officials are unclear about the distinction between those on parole and those on probation, often resulting in illegal disenfranchisement.”
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