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FREE! Our Families and Communities from the culture and industry of prison

No more Jim Crow Felony Disenfrahcisement in NY! - Rally on Election Day!

No More Jim Crow Felony Disenfranchisement in New York!

On November 2nd (Election Day) – Join Rallies Statewide to Win Parolee Voting Rights

What: Rallies at key polling sites in NYC, Westchester, Albany and your community

When: Next Tuesday, November 2nd

Where: Polling locations contact or 347-849-2486

Support: Feel free to post the attached flier & Sign-up sheet. Send back the sign-up sheet to Alfredo if you would like us to do follow up calls to people interested in attending

Background: Over 41,000 New Yorkers are denied the right to vote because they are on parole. Felony disenfranchisement in New York is rooted in Jim Crow laws and has a clear racial impact given that nearly 80% of people on parole in New York are African American or Latino. This undermines democracy in our state by excluding full civic participation by marginalized communities (including those most impacted by HIV/AIDS and the drug war) and creates another barrier to successful reentry. VOCAL-NY and our allies are calling on Albany to automatically restore voting rights for people once they are released from prison.

To develop a parolee voting rally in your community follow the steps below

1. Pick a target: Pick an elected official who represents a community that is highly disenfranchised. Send their name to and we will send back the polling site and location

2. Publicize the event: Send the details of the event to and we’ll send back a flier similar to the one attached, but with specifics of your event. Then send it out to your contacts with the sign-up sheet (attached) with any modifications you’d like to make

3. Notify media & electeds: Send an invite to allied elected officials to join the rally. Non-attendance is ok, but we want to get the word out. VOCAL-NY will send a press advisory you can send to your media contacts

4. Day of materials: VOCAL-NY can send press releases, signs and fliers for distribution. The best time for the rally is early in the morning, but doesn’t need to be more than 45 minutes to an hour

Support: We want to support the organizing of events across the state as well as at our 3 key polling sites. Contact or 347-849-2486 for anything that we can do to support or if you’d like to participate in the 3 planned rallies

Join our VOCAL Parolees Organizing Project to build power among people who are formerly incarcerated to reduce mass incarceration and fight discrimination against people with criminal records. Weekly meetings on Wednesday at 5:30pm at VOCAL/NYCAHN’s office (80A Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn). Contact Alfredo at (347) 849-2486 or for more information.

Check out images of our last parolee voting press conference on Oct. 7th at and read the press release below

October 7, 2010

CONTACT: Sean Barry - (646) 373-3344,

Elected Officials Press For Voting Rights On Day Before Registration Deadline

Advocates Urge Gubernatorial Candidates To Clarify Stance on Restoring Voting Rights For 41,000 New Yorkers On Parole

New York, NY – Elected officials joined members of VOCAL New York outside the Board of Elections in Manhattan today to call for restoring voting rights to 41,000 New Yorkers on parole. When factoring in those are incarcerated, more than 108,000 New Yorkers are currently disenfranchised due to a conviction in their past. The rally was timed the day before the voter registration deadline for the upcoming election on November 2nd.

“I’m 51 years old and this November will be the first time in my life I get to vote because I’ve either been behind bars or on parole until being discharged last month,” said Ramon Velasquez, a VOCAL New York member. “I’m trying to give back to my community – I volunteer at a homeless program, run recovery support groups, and support my family. But I was denied the right to vote until recently just because I was on parole.”

Advocates also urged gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino to clarify whether they support restoring voting rights for people on parole. “We need a Governor who stands up for civil rights and commits to end a law that seems designed to prevent large numbers of African Americans and Latinos from exercising their right to vote,” said Maria Diaz, a VOCAL member from Westchester.

The current law barring people with felony convictions from voting has a racially disparate impact given that nearly 80% of people on parole in New York are African American or Latino. The Brennan Center for Justice released a report earlier this year titled “Jim Crow in New York” detailing how felony disenfranchisement laws originated during the backlash against Reconstruction-era equal rights laws and the end of slavery. The report noted that about one in three Black men will be denied the right to vote at some point given current incarceration trends.

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell and Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson have introduced legislation (A2445/S4643) that would automatically restore voting rights for people who have completed their prison sentence.

Elected officials who spoke during the press conference provided the following statements expressing concern about felony disenfranchisement:

“The exclusion of parolees from our state’s voter rolls must end. These individuals have served their prison time and should be encouraged to reintegrate and invest in their communities, not remain disenfranchised on the fringes of society. With democratic participation already at low levels, enfranchisement of marginalized groups supports both good democracy and a stronger society,” said Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell.

"In a Nation and State so proud of our 'freedom', its is downright shameful that laws still exist to purposefully disenfranchise our citizenry. Our State needs to lead the way and not only allow those on parole to vote but also inform the currently and formerly incarcerated of their exact voting rights. As a former Chair of the State Assembly Committee on Election Law, I made it a priority to end these discriminatory practices and introduced legislation to empower our communities by giving all parolees the right to vote. It is time that we get back to 'one person, one vote' and away from 'one felon, no vote'," said Assembly Member Keith Wright of Harlem.

“One of the most important civil right issues facing us today is the rights and dignity of the incarcerated and newly paroled who disproportionately represent the Black and Latino populations. It is more than a little ironic, and tragically so, that New York is more than

willing to count inmates for the purpose of drawing congressional district lines, but then not allow them a vote upon their release. This is a critically important civil rights issue that must be carefully considered by both city and state governments,” said Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, a sponsor of the new law ending prison-based gerrymandering.

“America long ago expanded the concept of imprisonment to emphasize rehabilitation. It’s time to fully recognize that by restoring the right to vote to those people the courts have deemed to have paid their debt to society and it’s time for this restriction to be recognized as the civil rights issue it really is,” said Council Member Robert Jackson of Harlem.

Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL) and the NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN) is a grassroots membership organization led by people who are living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, drug use and mass incarceration.


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Jeremy Saunders

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Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL) &

NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN)

Cell: 917 676-8041