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Voter’s Bill

Restoring Voting Rights to Formerly Incarcerated Individuals in New York State

In a historic move, New York State has passed several groundbreaking bills that restore voting rights to individuals who have served time in prison. This momentous decision marks a significant step forward in promoting justice, equality, and civic engagement. 

Prior to these legislative changes, formerly incarcerated individuals in New York faced disenfranchisement until they completed their parole or probation sentences. This policy had lasting repercussions, perpetuating a culture of exclusion and hindering their ability to reintegrate fully into society. However, with the passage of these bills, thousands of people who have already paid their debt to society now have the fundamental right of citizenship reinstated.

The impact of restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals is immense. Studies have consistently shown that civic engagement, including voting, plays a vital role in successful reentry and reducing recidivism rates. By enabling these individuals to participate in the democratic process, we are fostering their integration into communities and empowering them to become productive citizens. The restoration of voting rights is an essential aspect of rehabilitation and can significantly improve the lives of those who have served their time.

Moreover, these bills address a pressing issue of racial disparity in the criminal justice system. The policy of disenfranchisement disproportionately affected communities of color in New York State, as black and Latino individuals were more likely to be arrested and incarcerated compared to their white counterparts. With these new laws in place, the state is taking a crucial step towards dismantling systemic racism and upholding principles of equality and justice.

Among the bills passed, A.2218/S.1931 stands out as a transformative piece of legislation. This bill automatically restores voting rights to individuals upon their release from prison, recognizing that the right to vote is an inherent aspect of citizenship that should not be arbitrarily taken away without due process. This progressive measure ensures that individuals are able to participate in the democratic process from the moment they rejoin society, fostering a sense of belonging and responsibility.

Additionally, A.2218/S.1931 addresses practical barriers to voting for formerly incarcerated individuals. The bill mandates that the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision provide voter registration forms to individuals upon their release from prison. This simple yet significant step facilitates access to the voting process, ensuring that those who were previously disenfranchised are now equipped with the resources they need to exercise their rights fully.

With these bills in effect, New York State is taking a holistic approach to public safety. By promoting civic engagement and participation, the state aims to reduce recidivism rates and create safer, more inclusive communities. Restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals is a clear recognition of their worth as citizens and a commitment to building a more just and democratic society for all. The impact of these bills will undoubtedly reverberate for generations to come, setting an inspiring example for other states to follow.

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Section 1

establishes legislative intent

Section 2

establishes procedures and parameters for sealing criminal convictions.

Section 3

establishes requirements for sealed records.

Section 4

establishes authority to promulgate forms, procedures, and processes for the sealing of records.

Section 5

incorporates records sealed under this legislation into exist-ing prohibitions against discrimination.

Section 6

address sealing of corrections records.

Section 7

establishes a private right of action.

Section 8

establishes severability.

Section 9

the effective date.