Prison strike demands end to felony disenfranchisement

Meanwhile, New Yorkers head to the polls under new rules

The 19-day prison strike ended on Sept. 9, amidst retaliation against organizers and resistance by public officials to release much information about what took place. Among strikers’ demands is an end to the disenfranchisement of people with felony convictions. “Prisoners are beginning to coalesce around the push to regain the vote as a means of forwarding the cause of prison reform,” Ed Pilkington reported in The Guardian on the strike’s final day.

In addition, formerly incarcerated people are playing a leading role in state efforts to end disenfranchisement. Kira Lerner reported in June on Voices of the Experienced, a New Orleans-based advocacy group that championed a new law narrowing disenfranchisement rules.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in the spring that he would restore the voting rights of people on parole. But Emma Whitford just reported in The Appeal that, on the eve of the state primary, more than half of the state’s county-level Boards of Elections have not updated eligibility information on their websites, and still say that people on parole are barred from voting. In addition, Cuomo’s executive order restricts the hours at which people convicted of sex offenses can vote in a school, Joseph Spector of the Democrat & Chronicle reports: They can only do so during a two-hour window, from 7 to 9p.m., and the Department of Corrections added a requirement that the parolee obtain “written permission from the parole officer and the school’s superintendent.

This item is part of the Sept. 13 “Political Report” newsletter.