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“It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have paid their debt and have re-entered society,” said Cuomo said in a statement. “This reform will reduce disenfranchisement and will help restore justice and fairness to our democratic process.”
According to Cuomo’s office, 35,000 people are on parole in New York state, of which 71% are African American and Hispanics.
“In this state, when you’re released from prison and you’re on parole, you still don’t have the right to vote,” the governor said. “Now how can that be? You did your time. You paid your debt. You’re released, but you still don’t have a right to vote.”
New York now joins 18 other states and the District of Columbia which allow parolees to vote.
Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Cuomo for Governor in this year’s primary election, said this was “long overdue.”
“For eight years, Cuomo governed like a Republican,” Nixon said. “Now he’s scared of communities all across New York who want to replace him with a real Democrat. Voter suppression in New York should have ended eight years ago, from the rights of parolees to access to early voting and automatic registration.”
During Cuomo’s two terms, New York has raised the age for criminal responsibility, required law enforcement to videotape custodial interrogations for serious offenses and closed 24 prisons and juvenile detention centers.