New York’s Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order allowing convicted felons the right to vote. Their voting rights would be reinstated once they are released on parole.
Cuomo had proposed a bill in the New York State Legislature which did not pass. He is instituting the change via executive order.
“I proposed a piece of legislation … this past year that said parolees should have the right to vote,” Cuomo said during a National Action Network press event last month. “The Republican Senate voted down that piece of legislation, which is another reason why we need a new legislature this November. But I’m unwilling to take no for an answer. I’m going to make it law by executive order and I announce that here today.”
The order will reinstate voting rights for thousands of New Yorkers the Governor’s office said, noting the old policy overwhelmingly affected minorities.
“This reform will restore the right to vote upon release from incarceration and reverse disenfranchisement for thousands of New Yorkers. 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,” a statement from Cuomo’s office read.
New York joins fourteen other states, along with Washington D.C. that grant the right to vote to felons who have been released from incarceration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They include Maine, Vermont, Indiana and Massachusetts.
In 2017, Wyoming voted to restore voting rights to nonviolent felons. Floridians will vote in November on whether to reinstate voting rights more easily to convicted felons.
An estimated 6.1 million Americans have lost their voting rights due to incarceration. New York’s action to reinstate the vote will affect roughly 35,000 parolees.
Cuomo tweeted after the announcement saying, “It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have re-entered society.”
Photo by Gov. Andrew Cuomo