Community Affairs Releases Parolee Voting Rights Bill

Cunningham

The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee this afternoon passed S-4260, which would remove the prohibition on voting by persons who are on parole or probation due to a conviction for an indictable offense under any federal or State laws.

Senators Ronald L. Rice, Shirley Turner and Sandra Cunningham (pictured, above) all spear-headed the bill.

The committee vote was 3-2.

O’Scanlon No

Conners No

Stack Yes

Rice Yes

Singleton Yes.

“It is my hope this gets expeditiously to the governor’s desk and signed into law sooner rather than

Singleton
Singleton

later,” said Committtee Chairman Troy Singleton (D-7).

Under Article II, Section I, paragraph 7, the New Jersey Constitution authorizes the Legislature to deny the right to vote to persons convicted of crimes designated by the Legislature. Under N.J.S.A.2C:51-3, a person who is convicted of a crime is disqualified from “voting in any primary, municipal, special or general election as determined by the provisions of R.S.19:4-1.”  In relevant part, R.S.19:4-1 denies the right to vote to any person “who is serving a sentence or is on parole or probation as a result of a conviction of any indictable offense under the laws of this or another state or of the United States.” In New Jersey, indictable offenses are crimes of the fourth through first degree.

Under the bill, persons who are on parole or probation would be permitted to vote. However, persons who are serving a sentence of incarceration would continue to be disenfranchised until they complete the term of incarceration. Accordingly, this bill also amends statutory provisions that require the commissioner of registration in each county to compare voter registration records with criminal conviction records to prevent disenfranchised persons from voting and registering to vote (N.J.S.A.19:31-17); and criminalize the act of voting while disenfranchised (N.J.S.A.19:34-4). Under the bill, these statutes would apply only to disenfranchisement while a person is serving a sentence of incarceration.

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