NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued conditional pardons Tuesday restoring voting rights to more than 24,000 parolees
New York is now one of just 14 states that allows people to vote after they’ve served time in prison. The pardons exclusively restore the right to vote and they have no other effect on a person’s conviction or status.
“The right to vote is fundamental and it is unconscionable to deny that basic right of citizenship to New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Restoring a voice to men and women reentering their communities will strengthen our democracy, as well as the reentry process, which in-turn will help reduce recidivism.”
Cuomo’s pardons apply to 24,086 people under community supervision. Each person was reviewed to see if they are “living successfully in the community” and maintaining required parole officers.
The change was made, in part, because 75 percent of parolees in the state are black or Latino and voting restrictions disproportionately impact African American and Hispanic communities.
“It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt and have re-entered society,” Cuomo previously said. “This reform will reduce disenfranchisement and will help restore justice and fairness to our democratic process. Withholding or delaying voting rights diminishes our democracy.”
A similar effort is underway in New Jersey where lawmakers are working to give prisoners, people on probation and individuals on parole the right to vote. Maine and Vermont already allow people to vote from prison.