Can Felons Vote in New York?

People with felonies can vote in New York if 1) the governor has pardoned them or restored their citizenship rights; 2) their maximum prison term has expired; or 3) they have completed parole. But felons might not need to wait until they are off parole to cast a ballot. 

The New York Governor's Office reviews a monthly list of felons released on parole and determines whether to offer them a conditional pardon to restore their voting rights.

Governor's Office Review to Restore Voting Rights to Felons

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, many individuals with felony convictions can legally vote once they have completed their sentence, their parole, and while they are on probation.

In accordance with Governor Cuomo's executive order, the Commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections is required to submit a current list of individuals who were released from prison and onto parole each month. The Governor's Office then reviews each individual's case and determines whether or not the Office will grant a conditional pardon, reinstating that individual's right to vote.

Conditional Pardons

It is important to note that, although each individual on the Commissioner's list will be automatically considered, restoration of an individual's voting rights is not unconditional. Restoration of a felon's suffrage is not guaranteed and may be revoked. Potential causes of voting right-revocation include:

  • Another felony conviction
  • Violation of parole

Voting With a Felony in New York: Steps to Take

If an individual with a felony record is granted a conditional pardon, they will receive a voter restoration pardon and a voter registration form. Although their voting right may be reinstated automatically, felons will still need to register to vote just like any other citizen.

If an individual is denied a conditional pardon upon initial review, their case will be reviewed again automatically. If a parolee is not sure if they have been granted a pardon, they can look up their current voting status on the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website.

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 permanently disenfranchise all felons, other states allow all citizens to vote regardless of their criminal history or incarceration. Most states rest somewhere in between those extremes.

Help for Restoring Voting Rights

Regaining voting rights can be an important and empowering experience for someone who has lost them. Even though the laws regarding voting rights for felons in New York state have been simplified, the laws can still be confusing and a violation can have serious consequences. If an individual has questions regarding their own voting rights, they should consider seeking the advice of an experienced civil rights lawyer.