NY Prisoners Counted Differently, Still Not Voting

In the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, 46-year-old John Molina—a self-described "political process junkie”—went all out. He attended rallies, put an Obama bumper sticker on his car and told all his neighbors to get out and vote.

"I'm one of those people that knocks on doors,"he says. "Don't complain to me about your neighborhood, about the garbage in your street, if you don't vote.”
 
But when November 4 came around, Molina didn't go to the polls. He wasn't allowed to. He was still on parole.
 
In New York State, anyone convicted of a felony and sentenced to time behind bars loses their right to vote while they're incarcerated, and for the duration of their parole. For years, civil and prisoner advocacy groups have fought to restore this right, on the argument that ex-offenders who are civically engaged are less likely to fall back into crime, and make for better citizens.
 
"The prison population is primarily made up of people of color, from low-income communities that have a lot of economic and social needs," says Steve Carbó, of the advocacy group Demos.
 
"If their voice is being limited by parts of their community not being included, they have that much less political strength to get those needs meet.”
 
But while prisoners will be counted as residents closer to home under the new deal, neither they —nor parolees—will count as voters.