New York Lawmaker Proposes Bill Allowing Prisoners to Vote

In this Feb. 6, 2017, file photo, Sen. Kevin Parker, D- Brooklyn, stands at the podium, flanked by Senate members during a news conference at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Parker wants to require police to scrutinize social media activity and online searches of handgun license applicants, and disqualify those …
Hans Pennink / AP

A New York state lawmaker is proposing legislation to make prison inmates eligible to vote in elections while incarcerated.

State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) introduced a bill before Election Day on Tuesday, November 5, that would allow prisoners to register and vote while incarcerated, the New York Post reported.

The state and county boards of elections would keep tabs on the program, and convicted felons would also be allowed to take part.

“If an incarcerated individual can be counted as a whole person in the census, then why can’t their vote be counted in an election?” explained Parker in the bill memo, arguing current laws are unfairly slanted against incarcerated minorities.

Parker’s proposal is getting heat from his fellow Democrats, who argue that voting is a right that should be taken away if incarcerated.

“If an individual has committed a crime and is incarcerated, they have lost the right to vote. They should serve their sentence and not be allowed to exercise a right they once held,” State Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Suffolk) told the Post.

Democrats also pointed out logistical problems with the legislation, such as a provision that would count the inmate’s vote in the district where he or she lived before incarceration.

“This will conflict with the census count, which is the way we determine legislative districts,” said State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), as legislative districts are determined by an area’s population— which would include the inmates in areas where they once lived before they were locked up.

The Big Apple has been known to be lax with their criminal justice policies.

In 2018, New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo restored the voting rights of 35,000 convicted felons out on parole.


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