Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order Wednesday restoring voting rights to men and women who are serving parole in New York State.
The reform will restore the right to vote to formerly incarcerated individuals as soon as they are released from prison. It will affect approximately 35,000 New Yorkers who are currently on parole and cannot vote.
The governor says parolees, or people under post-release supervision work, pay taxes, and support their families, so they should be permitted to express their opinions about the choices facing their communities through their votes, just like regular citizens.
Furthermore, the governor says parole voting restrictions disproportionally impacted African American and Hispanic New Yorkers. Statistics show New Yorkers of color make up 71 percent of parolees.
The governor also cites research showing parolees with the right to vote are less likely to go back to prison as justification for his Executive Order. He also believes the move will promote civic engagement.
New York now joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia that restore the right to vote upon release from incarceration.
"I am issuing an executive order giving parolees the right to vote. It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt and have re-entered society," Governor Cuomo 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."