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.