New York parolees will now be able to vote after the governor signed an executive order on Wednesday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have re-entered society. He initially proposed the legislation in the past year, but it was turned down by the senate.
Now, he used his power as governor to make it law.
“When you’re released from prison, and you’re on parole, you still don’t have the right to vote,” he said. “Now how can that be?”
Current law states those on probation are eligible to vote, so why not those on parole?
“At the same time, we’re saying we want you a part of society,” Cuomo said. “We want you to get back into the community.”
Cuomo announced the executive action at a National Action Network event in Manhattan. Through the law, 35,000 New Yorkers on parole will now be able to vote.
Many in the Capital Region approve.
“They’ve done their time and they should be allowed the same rights as everyone else,” Sherry Pratt, of Colonie, said.
Russell Goeller, of New York, agrees even though parole is still part of their sentence.
“They’re still able to get an apartment,” he said. “They’re still able to try to find a job, so they still have most rights of a normal citizen, so they should have the rights to vote.”
But Dan Joyce, of Delmar, is on the fence.
“I have a bit of a moral dilemma there when it comes to murder, so I don’t know where you want to draw the line on something like that,” he said.
New York Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is opposed. He’s considering legal action.
“These are convicted felons,” he said. “We have imprisonment; we have incarceration for valid public policy reasons. Parole is a function of that.”
The New York State Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) oversees parolees.
“This reform will reduce disenfranchisement and will help restore justice and fairness to our democratic process,” Cuomo said.
New York joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia that restore the right to vote upon release from incarceration.
The New York GOP released the following statement:
“First Governor Cuomo lets cop-killer Herman Bell go free on parole, now he’s adding insult to injury with an outrageous power grab that gives paroled felons the right to vote. Cuomo’s actions are purely political, designed to appeal to radical primary voters and satisfy his presidential ambitions. Meanwhile, New Yorkers continue to suffer under his rampant corruption, highest taxes and worst economic outlook in the nation. His liberal lunacy is destroying our state.”
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Cynthia Nixon released a statement:
“For eight years, Cuomo governed like a Republican — handing control of our state to his ultra-rich donors and the party of Trump. Now he’s scared of communities all across New York who want to replace him with a real Democrat. We don’t buy the Governor’s new song-and-dance routine. Voter suppression in New York should have ended eight years ago, from the rights of parolees to access to early voting and automatic registration.”