New York attorney Nicholas Hicks weighs in on new legislation that would allow inmates to vote while serving time.
Felons across the United States are mostly ineligible to vote. Depending on state policy, that right can be lost permanently. In other instances, attorney Nicholas Hicks explains that the right to vote can be restored after successfully completing time served and all other requirements.
Currently, only two US states allow incarcerated felons to vote, Maine and Vermont. Other states allow some prisoners to vote depending on their convictions, including Mississippi, Alaska, and Alabama. According to attorney Nicholas Hicks, New York may be next to offer prisoners their voting rights.
The legislation was introduced to the New York Senate on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019. The bill, sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker, would allow inmates residing in New York prisons to vote. New York lawmakers have previously been working on expanding the rights of the formerly incarcerated. However, this new bill would push things a step further. Attorney Nicholas Hicks notes that thousands of imprisoned people would be affected.
Some argue that since inmates are counted in the community census, they should be allowed to have a say in who represents them in elected office. Others say that voting is an earned right for people who follow community laws and are a contributing member to society. The topic has long been controversial and remains relevant in politics for many states.
The future of this bill remains unclear for now. The Democratic-controlled Assembly does not need a matching, or “same as,” bill to establish full passage. Although just introduced, the topic is already gaining traction among New York media and news outlets.
One major drawback to allowing prisoners to vote is their lack of information on political candidates. Many are unable to watch the news or read about the issues each candidate believes in. Even with this setback, many people believe in bringing about change to the prison system.
In recent months, lawmakers have passed other legislation surrounding criminal justice. One focus is to reduce recidivism and lower total population count in New York prisons. Governor Andrew Cuomo has also been working diligently for years, seeking out the closure of numerous prisons due to population decline. Another bill introduced at the beginning of 2019 would have allowed former prisoners to serve on juries.
About Attorney Nicholas Hicks:
Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private schools where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School.