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94 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12206;

(518) 465-4600;

May 4, 2016

Legislation on Parolee Voting, A.7634 (O’Donnell)/S.2023A (Hassell-Thompson)

Dear Members of the New York State Senate and Assembly:
On behalf of Citizen Action of New York, an organization that advocates for social, racial,
economic and environmental justice, I am writing in support of the above referenced
legislation sponsored by Assemblymember O’Donnell and Senator Hassell-Thompson to restore
the right to vote for New Yorkers on parole. Specifically, this legislation would enable voting
upon an individual’s release from incarceration, rather than requiring them to wait, often for
years, until he or she has been discharged from parole or reached the maximum expiration
date of a sentence.
Voting is a cornerstone of any democracy and the civic duty of the American people. As
community leaders, we believe in robust civic participation and the notion that our
government is stronger when more people are engaged and vote. As such, we support the
expansion of voting rights to people on parole, so that more than 40,000 citizens in New York
State can participate in elections and transition from incarceration into productive and
engaged members of our communities.
In addition, the restriction of voting rights based on conviction histories disproportionately
impacts on people of color. As of 2015, nearly three-quarters of the state’s disenfranchised
population was African American or Latino. By restoring the right to vote for people on
parole, we can turn back the clock on policies that exclude and stifle the civic participation
of Black and Latino New Yorkers.
Fourteen other states and the District of Columbia currently allow people to vote once they
are released from incarceration. It’s time for New York to follow suit and restore the vote for
all returning citizens.
Very truly yours,

Bob Cohen, Esq.
Policy Director