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Bill Would Restore Voting Rights to People With Criminal Convictions

Senators Ron Rice and Sandra Cunningham

Some New Jersey lawmakers are introducing legislation to restore voting rights to people with criminal convictions.

Senator Ron Rice says his bill would end the practice of taking the right to vote from residents on parole, probation, or in prison.

"There is no relationship between voting and committing crimes. To disenfranchise those who have made mistakes and are paying for them is wrong. "

Senator Sandra Cunningham says African-Americans are disproportionately denied the right to vote because of a criminal conviction.

"The fundamental problem is the linking of voting rights and a criminal justice system characterized by gross racial disparities. It is that fundamental problem we must address."

Ron Pierce can't vote because he’s on parole after being imprisoned more than 30 years.

“This law strikes at the heart of what it means to be a citizen. What is citizenship in a democracy if you don’t have a right to vote?  To strip an individual of their fundamental right to vote is to deny that individual their personhood. To vote has value to the soul. It brings a connectedness with it.”

Senator Gerald Cardinale opposes the legislation. He believes those still incarcerated should not be allowed to influence elections and public policy.