New law restores right to vote for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers

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A voter helps himself to an “I Voted” sticker after casting his ballot in the first hour of voting in New York at Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law Tuesday that allows formerly incarcerated individuals to vote.

The law restores the right to vote for formerly convicted felons, including those released on community supervision or parole.

The House and Assembly had each passed the bill by April 21.

Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell celebrated the bill’s passage.

“This is a big day for democracy,” he tweeted. “New York State is leading the way by expanding access to voting, righting historical wrongs, and strengthening communities.”

Prior to the law’s passage, people who are released on parole and under community supervision for felonies have to wait months or years to vote until they’ve been discharged from parole or reached the end of supervision.

“Over the past several years, New York has been a national leader in election and criminal justice reforms, and felony disenfranchisement is a vestige of Jim Crow era voting restrictions,” Cuomo said of signing the bill into law. “I strongly believe that restoring the right to vote to people who have paid their debt to society strengthens our democracy, promotes successful reentry into the community, and makes New York a safer and fairer place to live.

The law codifies an executive order Cuomo issued in May 2018, his office said, which has helped more than 67,000 New Yorkers have their right to vote restored.

Now that the legislation has passed and the changes are permanent, administrative delays will be eliminated and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will provide information about the right to vote and voter registration at the time of an inmate’s release.

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