A bill codifying the rights of people on parole to vote was signed into law Tuesday evening by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a move cheered by criminal justice reform advocates.
State lawmakers gave final approval to the bill last month and Cuomo's signature comes three years after he approved an executive order extending voting rights to people on parole. At the time, Cuomo pointed to the laws barring people on parole supervision being disproportionately people of color.
Supporters of the legislation pointed to the effect the measure will have on the formerly incarcerated, especially people of color.
“No one should never lose their right to vote. Felony disenfranchisement has a historical connection to the damage and exclusion forced upon our Black and Brown communities," said Ivelisse Gilestra, a community organizer with College & Community Fellowship. "The removal of a marginalized population from the very decisions affecting us is indicative of oppressive practices still in place. Restoring the right to vote for people on parole rectifies this collective injustice. We have served our time. We pay our taxes and give back to the community. It is our right to participate in our democracy.”