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How does a drug conviction affect NY voting rights?

If you face felony drug charges in New York, you likely have a variety of concerns. While mounting a good defense and limiting prison time are probably at the front of your mind, you cannot forget about your post-conviction civic life. You may wonder how a drug conviction in the Empire State could affect your legal right to vote. 

As you probably know, state law dictates who can vote. In some states, convicted felons permanently lose their legal right to cast a ballot. Fortunately, that is not the case in New York. Once you finish your sentence for a drug-related crime, you can probably register to vote again. Here are some things you need to know about criminal convictions and voting rights in New York. 

New York allows felons to vote 

While presidential elections often receive most of the press coverage, elections happen all the time. In New York, you usually cannot vote while serving a sentence for a felony conviction. You can, however, register to vote again if either of the following applies to you: 

  •         You are on probation.
  •         You have completed parole. 

If you have not yet completed parole, you may not be out of luck. Governor Andrew Cuomo executed an executive order that allows many New Yorkers to vote before their parole ends. If you want to vote prior to the expiration of your parole, though, you need to request an executive pardon

Your conviction matters 

While a conviction for a drug felony in New York may make you temporarily ineligible to vote, a misdemeanor conviction usually does not affect your voting rights. If you care about civic engagement, you may choose to exercise your legal right to contest felonious drug charges. Often, the best way to keep your voting privileges intact is to avoid a felony drug conviction altogether. 

Voting is one of the most important rights any American citizen has. While a felony drug conviction could render you unable to vote legally, you likely have some pre- and post-conviction options.

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