Voting is a hard-won right and a responsibility. It is very important that all Americans exercise this right, allowing our political structure to function as intended, and each of our individual voices to be heard. For the 47 million Americans with criminal records, however, it may be risky to rely on voter registration forms to determine whether they may register to vote.
As so eloquently put by the American Civil Liberties Union –
“The variety and complexity of these disfranchisement policies has led to considerable confusion and misapplication of the laws, effectively barring countless eligible Americans from the ballot box. Research has shown that many people with past criminal records mistakenly believe they are ineligible to vote, a problem compounded by the prevalence of similar confusion among elections officials, who often dispense incorrect eligibility information to potential voters.
This confusion is exacerbated by voter registration forms that, in too many states, fail to properly communicate state disfranchisement policy. In the absence of clear eligibility guidelines, many Americans, unsure if they are permitted to vote, will choose not to register for fear of registering improperly (itself a crime); others are left vulnerable to improper registration. The result is the practical - or de facto - disfranchisement of countless eligible voters, and the possibility that ineligible voters will mistakenly register.”
New Yorkers who have served their time in our criminal justice system have the right to vote - and their voices must be heard. The deadline to register for the September 13th Primary is August 19th, don't miss out.