Murphy signs bill to restore voting rights to some convicts in NJ

New Jersey
Election voting

FILE – A voter casts his ballot in the midterm election at the East Midwood Jewish Center polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on November 6, 2018. (ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW JERSEY — Governor Phil Murphy signed two bills into law today that will allow convicts out on parole or probation to vote and many may be able to clear their criminal records of low-level offenses.

“I’ll be able to vote next year,” said Ronald Pierce, who is formerly incarcerated and a voting rights advocate.

The voting rights bill for New Jersey convicts will allow 80,000 people in New Jersey to rejoin the voting rolls in March.

The second bill signed today will allow residents to wipe their records clean if they have stayed out of trouble for 10 years and have not committed the most serious crimes.

“I am proud to sign one of the most progressive expungement laws in the nation, which will allow more New Jerseyans the opportunity to fully engage in our society,” said Gov. Murphy.

Damon Durden knows what the stigma of a criminal record feels like…

“To have a criminal record constantly haunt you even though you’re doing everything to be apart of society, you feel like you’re not accepted,” said Damon Durden, who serves as field director for the Newark Community Street Team.

Durden ran into trouble with the law in his youth and said he was given a second chance when he became employed by the city of Newark. He works to help young people steer clear or recover from run-ins with the criminal justice system.

“You can live your dreams as others get to live their dreams,” said Durden.

New Jersey will also create a task force to focus on expungements and how to handle them in the years to come.

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