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Press Release

Governor Cuomo Signs Bill to Restore Voting Rights to People on Parole

New York joins 18 other states that have laws automatically restoring voting rights to everyone upon release from prison.

May 4, 2021
Contact: Julian Brookes, Media Contact, brookesj@brennan.law.nyu.edu, 646-292-8376

For Imme­di­ate Release
May 5, 2021

Last night, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill, S.830, that restores voting rights to people upon release from prison. With the Governor’s signa­ture, New York joins 18 other states that have laws auto­mat­ic­ally restor­ing voting rights to every­one upon release from prison.

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:

“This is a good day for New York State’s demo­cracy and our communit­ies. People on parole live and work in our cities and towns, and by auto­mat­ic­ally restor­ing their right to vote, New York is finally welcom­ing them as full parti­cipants in soci­ety. That’s a crucial change, one that will ameli­or­ate one of the vestiges of Jim Crow. Due to the racial dispar­it­ies in New York’s crim­inal justice system, nearly three-quar­ters of those disen­fran­chised by the ban on voting for people on parole were Black or Latino. Now the law makes clear that they have a say in the elec­tions that impact them and their famil­ies.”

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 codi­fies the restor­a­tion of voting rights so that 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 ensures 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.