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Press Release

Brennan Center Statement: New York State Assembly Passes Bill to Restore Voting Rights to People on Parole

New York is one of two states whose law allows voting on probation but not parole. Governor Cuomo should now sign the bill into law without delay.

April 21, 2021
Contact: Julian Brookes, Media Contact, brookesj@brennan.law.nyu.edu, 646-292-8376

For Immediate Release
April 21, 2021

Contact: Julian Brookes, julian.brookes@nyu.edu, 646-673-6224

Today the New York State Assembly passed S.830, a bill that would 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, which the state senate passed in February, must now be sent to the governor for his signature.

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:

“By passing this bill, the state assembly has sent a clear message: if you live in the community, you should be able to vote.

“For decades, New York law has denied tens of thousands of New Yorkers living, working, and paying taxes in their communities the right to vote only because they are on parole. That’s wrong. They should be able to participate in democracy and the decisions that affect their lives.

“Because of the racial disparities plaguing New York State’s criminal justice system, the prohibition on voting for people on parole has had an enormous impact on Black and Latino New Yorkers, who make up nearly three-quarters of the people on parole in New York State.

“Disenfranchising people on parole is a vestige of Jim Crow. We look forward to the governor putting an end to it by signing S. 830 into law.” 

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. 

The new law 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, it would ensure that the legal restoration of voting rights actually leads to registration and voting by impacted New Yorkers.

Brennan Center Resources

More information on rights restoration efforts in New York is here.

More information on rights restoration nationwide is here.

Statement on voting rights restoration to people on parole in the state of Washington is here.