New York, NY — Today the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Demos, and the Legal Action Center, three leading national public policy organizations, praised the New York Assembly Committee on Election Law for passing the Voting Rights Notification and Registration Act on June 14th, a bill that would reduce barriers to voting by individuals with felony convictions.
"We commend Chairman Keith Wright and the Committee on Election Law for passing this important piece of legislation and encourage the full Assembly to do the same within the coming weeks. This bill will effectively ensure that New Yorkers with felony convictions are informed of their voting rights and provided the opportunity to participate in the democratic process as they become reintegrated into our communities.
"While New York election law only disfranchises those individuals incarcerated or on parole because of a felony conviction, there is a widespread misunderstanding of the law among affected communities and elections officials. A recent report by The Sentencing Project found that close to 60 percent of New Yorkers under the supervision of the criminal justice system incorrectly believed that an individual on probation could not vote, and more than 60 percent reported that no one ever informed them of their voting rights.
"Additionally, a recent survey by the Brennan Center and Demos found that approximately half of New York's 63 local boards of elections were not aware of the eligibility requirements. Thousands of eligible New Yorkers may have been misinformed as a result.
"The Voting Rights Notification and Registration Act, Assembly Bill 11652, will correct misinformation by providing clear and systematic notice to individuals of their voting rights as they complete their maximum prison sentences or are discharged from parole. It will also require criminal justice agencies to provide assistance with voter registration and voting by absentee ballot, and will assure that corrections and elections agencies share the data necessary to verify voter eligibility.
"By passing this bill, the Committee on Election Law has moved the Assembly one step closer to securing the voting rights of all eligible New Yorkers. We strongly encourage the full Assembly to pass this bill and send a strong message that voting is a fundamental right. All citizens are entitled to accurate information about their right to vote and, when eligible, should be given every opportunity to participate in the democratic process."
For more information visit archive.demos.org.