Voting rights for people on parole
What is it? In New York, there are over 30,000 people on parole at any given time. Criminal disenfranchisement laws disproportionately impact people of color, removing the voice of entire communities. These laws have been on the books since the Jim Crow Era when they were designed to explicitly take away voting rights from Black men.
Why is this a priority? Last year, the Governor issued an executive order granting 35,000 voting pardons to people on parole. Yet, that’s just an interim measure. We must pass strong bills to ensure all individuals of voting age may participate in our democracy.
What’s the status? Sadly, restoration legislation did not move during the 2019-2020 legislative session. We did all we could to make sure it was passed, but there was no moving it. We are determined to bolster our efforts next year to ensure that no eligible voter is left behind.
Automatic Voter Registration
What is it? Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) would register eligible New Yorkers to vote when they interact with a government agency (i.e., the DMV, Department of Health), unless they opt out.
Why is this a priority? Participating in our democracy should never be an opt-in process, and AVR could turn more than one million New Yorkers into one million new voters. New York needs a model that is implemented at multiple government agencies and provides adequate safeguards to protect our most vulnerable populations.
About the bill:
FRONT END. Upon interaction with a state agency, individuals may opt-out of the voter registration process. If they don’t opt out, they are automatically enrolled to vote.
Implemented at MULTIPLE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. It's as expansive as possible. All National Voter Registration Act agencies may participate: DMV, Department of Health (Medicaid), Office of Veterans Affairs, CUNY, SUNY, and more.
PROVIDES ADEQUATE SAFEGUARDS to protect vulnerable populations. Failsafes protect those who are ineligible to vote, and domestic violence survivors are notified and allowed to remove their information from public voter rolls.
What’s the status? AVR did not pass during the 2019-2020 legislative session. However, Leaders Stewart-Cousins and Heastie have made a commitment to pass the bill next year.
PARTY ENROLLMENT FLEXIBILITY
What is it? New York has one of the most restrictive party enrollment deadlines in the country, prohibiting many from participating in primary elections.
Why is this a priority? The current deadline locks out hundreds of thousands of voters during the primaries. It must be shortened to allow people to make an informed decision when they vote.
What’s the status? We significantly shortened the party enrollment deadline for the majority of our elections! Effective immediately, New York’s party enrollment deadline is February 14th, four months before the state and federal primary and two months before the presidential primary. Yet, there is still work to be done, as this amendment only makes our deadline the second most restrictive in the country, after Kentucky’s.