Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he intends to restore voting rights to felons on parole, a move that could open the ballot box to more than 35,000 people. The mechanism through which Mr. Cuomo plans to do so is unusual: He would consider pardons for all 35,000 people currently on parole in New York, as well as any new convicted felons who enter the parole system each month. The move amounts to a legal sidestep of the State Legislature, where the Republican-controlled Senate has opposed many of Mr. Cuomo’s proposed criminal justice reforms. It does not change state law, which currently bars convicted felons from voting unless they are on probation or have completed parole.
Mr. Cuomo made the announcement at the National Action Network’s annual convention in New York City, where he was introduced by the group’s founder, the Rev. Al Sharpton. The governor said he had proposed legislation allowing parolees to vote, but that it had been rejected by the State Senate.
“I’m unwilling to take no for an answer,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I’m going to make it law by executive order,” he added, continuing, “With active intervention, we can bend the arc toward justice.”
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, later clarified that Mr. Cuomo had proposed the idea during closed-door budget negotiations but that the idea was shot down; no bill was ever advanced.