Skip Navigation
Press Release

New York Will Restore Voting Rights to People on Parole

The move is a big step forward for democracy in the state, and reaffirms the fundamental truth that discriminatory disenfranchisement laws have no place in our society.

April 18, 2018

New York, N.Y. –  Today the governor of New York announced that he will issue an executive order restoring voting rights to tens of thousands of New Yorkers previously disenfranchised because they were on parole. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law – alongside a coalition of partners – has long advocated for ensuring that all New Yorkers and indeed all Americans with criminal convictions in their past are given the right to cast a ballot.

Myrna Pérez, the deputy director of the Brennan Center’s democracy program, issued the following statement:

“Governor Cuomo has taken an enormous step forward for our democracy in New York today. The right to vote is foundational to our democracy. New York State’s disenfranchisement policy is rooted in historical racism, a shameful extension of 19th century efforts to intentionally block black men from casting ballots. And today, depriving Americans on parole of the right to vote continues to have a drastic impact on people of color: our Brennan Center estimates show that three-quarters of disenfranchised New Yorkers are African American or Latino.

“Now, the State of New York is poised to turn the page on this despicable chapter in our history. Governor Cuomo’s actions today will reaffirm a fundamental truth: that discriminatory disenfranchisement laws have no place in our society. There is an emerging consensus that our democracy should no longer exclude women and men previously convicted of crimes who now live and work in our communities. Such policies are a repudiation of the values of our Constitution, and don’t reflect who we are as a nation.

“It’s crucial now that state officials implement this new policy effectively and clearly. This executive order will mean thousands more will be welcomed back into our democracy and assured that in 21st century America, the right to vote is inviolable. We will continue to advocate for further efforts nationwide in states like Florida and New Jersey to roll back disenfranchisement laws and assert the voting rights of all Americans.”

Click here for more information on the Brennan Center’s work to restore voting rights in New York.

Read the Brennan Center’s seminal report Jim Crow in New York on racial disparities in voting in New York State.

See our map of criminal disenfranchisement laws nationwide.

To connect with a Brennan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at or 646–292–8316.