Republicans are attacking an initiative by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to restore the voting rights of former felons, holding hearings and releasing a new digital advertisement accusing him of prioritizing sex offenders over other voters. Between April and September, 30,666 parolees received a conditional pardon allowing them to vote, a member of Mr. Cuomo’s cabinet revealed this week. It is unclear how many of those people have registered, said representatives for the State Board of Elections. Previously, those convicted of felonies in New York could vote only after completing parole. The governor, a Democrat seeking a third term in November, and his team cast their effort as necessary to combat the effects of mass incarceration, and said disenfranchising voters disproportionately impacts racial minorities.
Civil rights groups and public defenders have applauded Mr. Cuomo’s move, which is in line with more than a dozen other states.
But Republicans have seized on the issue. The Republican State Committee released an advertisement highlighting four recent parolees, including Herman Bell, who killed two New York City police officers in 1971 and was released from prison in April after 39 years of incarceration.