New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a mandate earlier this year, allowing parolees to vote. Many opposed this move, especially Senate Republicans.
On Monday, the Senate committee held a hearing on the whole parole system and how this new mandate is working.
Senator Patrick Gallivan led the Senate hearing by calling out Gov. Cuomo for going around the legislature when he mandated that parolees can vote. It would now take a Constitutional amendment to overturn the mandate, which makes Senators and even department heads feel that the process was rushed.
“The Constitution was not intended to deal in a blanket fashion with tens of thousands of individuals,” Gallivan said.
“It’s frustrating because voting rights are often subject to a lengthy debate whenever there is a change in voting rights,” Todd Valentine, Co-Executive Director of NY State Board of Elections
Valentine says he found out that parolees can now vote through a press release. It wasn’t until a month later when they were given directions on how to implement this mandate.
“We kept asking for information but we didn’t get it. And we’re doing the best we can.”
Also just under 30 percent of all poll sites statewide are schools, so times and places where parolees can vote was another factor never discussed with the state board of elections.
“It could be catastrophic to the election process because while schools have to be poll sites when asked, but it’s hard when they’re not cooperative or there is community push back
A large advocacy however group did attend the hearing to push for parole justice and continued support in allowing parolees the right to vote.
“Disenfranchising people at the polling place and demonizing those who have had contact with the legal system is a shameful, racist, age-old tactic that no New Yorker should fall for.”
A second hearing will be held on Long Island on Tuesday.