TRENTON, NJ – A piece of legislation championed by Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Paterson) that would restore voting rights to individuals on parole or probation was passed 46-23-1 by the New Jersey General Assembly Monday.
The bill would remove the prohibition on voting by persons on parole and/or probation convicted for an indictable offense under any federal or state laws, which in New Jersey are offenses for crimes of the fourth through first degree. Approximately 79,000 people on either probation and/or parole in New Jersey are currently restricted from voting.
“New Jersey can lead the nation as a model of racial justice and inclusive democracy with the enactment of this bill," said Sumter "The privilege to participate in the election process is a constitutional right afforded every American regardless of background, race or status. Every person of voting age should have the ability to cast their ballot without interference and without judgement of their personal history.”
States across the country have sought to ease voting restrictions on individuals with criminal convictions in recent decades. Under the proposed legislation, New Jersey’s law would be amended to provide for automatic restoration of voting rights upon release, where it currently provides for automatic restoration only after the completion of a sentence including periods of parole and probation.
The bill now goes to the Senate for further review.
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