By Staff –
“It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt, and have re-entered society,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “This reform will reduce disenfranchisement, and will help restore justice and fairness to our democratic process. Withholding or delaying voting rights diminishes our democracy.”
There are roughly 35,000 individuals currently on parole in New York who cannot vote.
And, parole voting restrictions have a disproportionate impact on New Yorkers of color, according to the state, with African Americans and Hispanic New Yorkers representing 71 percent of the parolee population.
Gov. Cuomo announced the action during a speech Wednesday at the National Action Network’s annual conference in Manhattan, where he was introduced by the group’s founder, Rev. Al Sharpton.
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo and I have known each other for over 20 years,” Rev. Sharpton stated. “And, he has been one that would always go toe-to-toe in a room, and if you tried to challenge, he would answer the challenge. When in the year 2000, we had over 100,000 people march in Washington about racial profiling – the first big racial profiling march – Mrs. Coretta Scott King introduced her son, and I had a keynote. There was only one member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet that would come and speak, and that was the [former] Secretary of HUD, Andrew Cuomo.”
In Rochester, State Assemblyman David Gantt applauded Cuomo’s action.
“I applaud Gov. Cuomo for taking this bold and decisive action with his executive order,” Assemblyman Gantt said. “As someone who has spent decades registering voters, I fully understand the positive impact this will have on our community. It is wrong for members of our community who have paid their debt to society to be denied the right to vote. This executive order restores that basic right to these men and women and allows them to participate in our democracy.”
Currently, Gov. Cuomo is in his second term as governor, and his additional accomplishments include issuing an executive order to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate police-related civilian deaths, and signing “Raise the Age” legislation to end the practice of treating 16- and 17-year-old defendants as adults in criminal court.
New York will join 18 other states and the District of Columbia that restore the right to vote upon release from incarceration.