Essay: New York must fully restore voting rights for all formerly incarcerated people

Senator Samra Brouk and Assemblymember Sarah Clark

March 03, 2021

Originally published in Democrat and Chronicle on March 03, 2021.

In 2018, Democrats took full control of New York’s state government for the first time in a decade, and our colleagues in the legislature have used the opportunity to pass an array of essential voting reforms.

From early voting to automatic voter registration, New York State has taken important steps to ensure that everyone in the state has access to the ballot box. 

But there is unfinished business that cannot be put on hold any longer. 

Currently, New York State law prohibits people on parole from voting. This injustice is a Jim Crow-era relic that prevents people who have served their time from receiving the most basic right of citizenship. Three years ago, Gov.  Andrew Cuomo took executive actions to address this problem. By offering parolees conditional pardons after release from prison, the Governor was absolutely right to restore the ability to vote for formerly incarcerated people after their prison sentences were completed, on a case-by-case basis.