New Jersey Restores Voting Rights To People On Parole, Probation's Eric Kiefer Reports

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — In 1844, New Jersey passed a law that stripped residents of their right to vote after a criminal conviction. But on Wednesday – 175 years later – that right was restored to thunderous applause from civil rights advocates, former prisoners and their supporters.

During a ceremony in Essex County, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation to restore voting rights to New Jersey residents on probation or parole. The new law is expected to affect more than 80,000 people. It will take effect in 90 days. (Read the full bill)

The voting rights bill was sponsored by Assembly members Shavonda Sumter, Cleopatra Tucker, Jamel Holley and Britnee Timberlake, and Sens. Ronald Rice and Sandra Cunningham.

One Week’s Work: New Jersey And Kentucky Restore Voting Rights To More Than 200,000

The Appeal's Daniel Nichanian Reports

More than 200,000 people with criminal convictions regained the right to vote over the past week, as Kentucky and New Jersey struck a double blow against felony disenfranchisement

On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill to enable any adult citizen who is not incarcerated to vote. People on parole and probation were disenfranchised until now. The law, effective by the 2020 presidential primary, will restore the rights of about 80,000 people.


Murphy Signs Bills to Ease Expungements, Restore Vote to Convicts on Parole, Probation

Burlington County Times' David Levinsky Reports

Declaring New Jersey to be a state that “believes in second chances,” the Democratic governor signed both measures on Wednesday, just two days after they were approved by the state Legislature.

NEWARK — Gov. Phil Murphy did not wait long to sign into law legislation that will make it easier for people convicted of nonviolent crimes and low-level drug offenses to get their records expunged and another allowing convicts on parole or probation to vote.

Declaring New Jersey to be a state that “believes in second chances,” the Democratic governor signed both measures Wednesday, just two days after they were approved by the state Legislature.

Governor Murphy Signs Voting Rights Restoration Bill


New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Signs Bill to Restore Voting Rights to People on Probation and Parole

NEWARK - Governor Phil Murphy today signed a bill restoring voting rights to more than 80,000 people who had been barred from voting because they are on probation or parole.

The bill, A-5823, was passed on November 25 by the Assembly and on December 16 by the Senate. It restores voting rights upon a person’s release from prison, and to those on parole or probation. The law will go into effect 90 days from signing, or March 17, 2020.

Key Social Justice Legislation Voted Out of Legislature Today Reports

NEWARK – Key legislation on two social justice initiatives spearheaded by the Institute and its partners were voted out of the legislature today: voting rights restoration for people on probation and parole and apprenticeship legislation.

“On the winding road of making change, days like this are deeply gratifying,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice. “The Institute believes deeply that in order to create a more racially and socially just New Jersey, systemic policy change is essential. Seeing that change come into fruition through the legislative process is incredibly encouraging. These two legislative initiatives will make a real difference in people’s lives and the state of democracy in New Jersey. Now it’s on to the Governor’s desk, and we urge him to act quickly.”

NJ One Step From Giving Voting Rights to Those on Parole or Probation, But Not in Prison's Ashley Balcerzak Reports

New Jersey is one legislative step away from letting thousands more people on parole or probation vote, after the Legislature sent a bill to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk Monday. However, lawmakers stopped short of legislation that would give voting rights to currently incarcerated people, which only two states allow.

The Senate voted 21-17 to pass a measure that would allow people convicted of an indictable offense, or felony, currently on parole or probation to vote, affecting more than 73,000 disenfranchised New Jerseyans, according to a report by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. New Jersey's 1844 state Constitution let the Legislature deny the vote to people with criminal convictions until they finished their entire sentences, which includes parole and probation. The Assembly passed the bill 48-24 in November.

Lawmakers Restore Voting Rights to NJ Parolees and Probationers

NJTV Online's Michael Hill Reports

The state Senate voted to restore voting rights to 83,000 New Jerseyans on parole and probation.

“I got to push the button to vote, and Sen. Cunningham blessed me with the ability to push the button to restore my right to vote today, which I didn’t expect waking up this morning,” said parolee Antonne Henshaw.

The approval would mean Henshaw can vote for the first time after serving 30 years for murder and will spend the rest of his life on parole.

NJ Senate Committee Passes Voting Rights for People on Parole and Probation



New Jersey Senate Committee Passes Bill to Restore Vote to People on Parole and Probation

S4260 Moves to Full Senate Monday

NEWARK – The Community & Urban Affairs Committee of the New Jersey Senate today passed legislation (S4260) to restore the vote to people in New Jersey on parole and probation. 

This historic legislation, which will restore the vote to 83,000 people whose voices have been silenced due to institutionalized voter suppression, will now move to the full Senate for a vote on Monday, Dec. 16.

New Jersey Might Give 80,000 People on Probation and Parole the Right to Vote. Advocates Want More.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Lai Reports

It was Election Day last year. The big midterm elections.

A group of kids, dressed in yellow, stood outside the campus library and asked everyone walking by: Did you vote? Don’t forget!

Antonne Henshaw didn’t know what to say. Nor did the friend walking with him. So they lied.

“I remember feeling such shame that we had to lie to them,” he said. “We were like, ‘Yeah, we voted,’ but we knew we could never vote.”

Even though Henshaw is a graduate student at Rutgers-Camden, and even though he is not considered a public safety threat, he will be on parole for life after spending 30 years behind bars for fatally shooting a man during a dispute.

New Jersey does not allow the more than 80,000 people on probation or parole for felonies — people who are not incarcerated — to vote. 

Voting Rights Advocate Ron Pierce Imagines a Fairer New Jersey for People with Convictions's M.E. Cagnassola Reports

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Speaking before the New Jersey General Assembly in Trenton on Nov. 25, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris) called upon his fellow legislators to consider a particular idiom ahead of a vote on a bill to restore voting rights to people on parole and probation upon release. 

“There is a reason why we have a saying in our language that is used to denote something that’s absurd. We say: ‘The inmates are running the asylum,’” Webber said. “This bill literally allows the inmates to run the asylum.”

However, Ron Pierce, a Justice & Democracy fellow with the Newark-based New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and his colleagues see things a bit differently.