Can Felons Vote in New York?

People with felonies can vote in New York upon completion of their sentence. They do not need to wait until after they complete their parole.


Until recently, the New York Governor's Office reviewed a monthly list of felons released on parole. The Office determined whether to offer a conditional pardon to restore their voting rights. But a new law changes that.

New York Restores Felons' Voting Rights After Serving Sentence

On April 18, 2018, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order updating and clarifying New York state's voting laws for felons. According to the executive order, those with felony convictions could vote once they complete their prison sentence and parole. A person on probation could register to vote. A misdemeanor conviction didn't result in disenfranchisement.

Governor Cuomo's executive order required the Commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections to submit a monthly list of persons released from prison. The Governor's Office reviewed each case and determined their eligibility for restoration of voting rights.

On May 4, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed a bill that restored voting rights upon release from prison, even if the person is on parole. Those on probation or post-release supervision can vote.

Voting With a Felony in New York: Steps To Take

Once a felon's voting rights are restored, they must still register to vote, regardless of their criminal convictions. They must register at their county board of elections under state election law. Registration can take place in person or by mailing in a voter registration form.

If they need an absentee ballot, convicted felons need only request one by mail. If they do not have a permanent address, they may use the address of any residence as long as they have lived there for 30 days before the election. Using a halfway house or other post-release facility is acceptable.

The New York State Board of Elections has complete information about felon voting rights and a link to verify your registration status.

How Does New York Compare To Other States?

Every state in the U.S. has its own laws regarding the voting rights of people convicted of crimes. Some states, such as Arizona, Alabama, Tennessee, and Iowa, permanently disenfranchise all violent felons. Vermont, Maine, and Washington D.C. allow all citizens to vote regardless of their criminal convictions. Most states, such as Connecticut, Florida, and Virginia, rest between those extremes. Louisiana, for example, will restore voting rights upon completion of sentence, probation, and parole.

Get Help Restoring Voting Rights

Regaining voting rights can be an important and empowering experience for someone who has lost them. Although New York's voting rights laws are simpler now, they can still be confusing. A violation can have serious consequences. If a New Yorker has questions regarding their own democratic voting rights, they should consider seeking the advice of an experienced civil rights lawyer.

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