POLITICS
11/01/2018 01:45 pm ET

New York City Voter Guide Wrongly Tells Paroled Felons They Can't Vote

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo restored parolees' right to vote back in April.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A voter guide mailed to millions of New York City residents falsely states that paroled felons cannot vote in the upcoming midterm elections, the New York City Campaign Finance Board acknowledged Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order in April restoring voting rights to anyone convicted of a felony who is out on parole. The guide was mailed in mid-October to registered voters.

On the second page of the 32-page document, the guide falsely instructs residents they cannot vote if they are on parole for a felony, WNYC reported.

The board apologized for the mistake in a statement and promptly corrected the information on its website.  

Most states strip convicted felons of the right to vote while incarcerated, allowing them to resume voting after completing their sentence. Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow even incarcerated felons to vote, while four states permanently disenfranchise those with felony convictions. Cuomo’s office noted in April that New York would join

13 other states and the District of Columbia in granting parolees the right to vote.

The governor’s office said that the move applies to around 35,000 New Yorkers out on parole. A request for comment was not immediately returned.

The New York City Campaign Finance Board stated its members are continuing to work with the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College and other organizations to “speak with parolees directly and inform them about their voting rights.” The effort includes a trip to New York’s infamous Rikers Island prison complex, scheduled Friday, the board said.

Figuring out whether you can vote with a felony conviction is complicated. As HuffPost previously reported, the stakes are high: If you’re wrong about your status, you can land back in prison for voting illegally.

Voting rules differ by state, with some requiring a full sentence ― probation and parole time included ― be completed before the right to vote is restored. According to the most recent estimates, from 2010, there are around 19 million people with felony convictions in the U.S. 

The voter guide error was the second high-profile mistake made by New York election officials in the lead-up to the hotly contested 2018 midterm elections.

In mid-October, around 400,000 New Yorkers received notices saying that their voter status may have lapsed. The office of New York Mayor Bill De Blasio blamed the New York City Board of Elections, which stated that the letters were mailed by an “outside entity.” De Blasio’s office said the list of supposedly inactive voters came from a political consulting group, according to The New York Times.

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