Legal Aid Society


Advocates Rally to Ensure Access to Voting for Incarcerated New Yorkers

The Vote in NYC Jails Coalition rallied today outside of the New York City Board of Elections’ headquarters in Manhattan calling on the New York City Council to hold an oversight hearing on efforts made by the City to ensure incarcerated New Yorkers’ access to the ballot box.

A letter sent yesterday from the advocates to the Council states:

Access to the ballot is foundational to our democracy, necessary for our communities, and is a vital part of New Yorkers’ sense of belonging and engagement with the City. While voting is always of great import, this election year New Yorkers will vote for all levels of federal government, as well as members of the state legislature, and ballot measures that could amend the State Constitution. We must ensure that people incarcerated have the same level of access to the ballot for these important elections that those who are not currently within the criminal legal system do.

“On this and every election day, incarcerated New Yorkers deserve to have their voices heard at the polls,” said Rigodis Appling, Staff Attorney with the Criminal Defense Practice’s Special Litigation Unit and Community Justice Unit at The Legal Aid Society.

“Voting is a fundamental right in this country, and the BOE and DOC have an obligation to effectively facilitate a system that ensures every individual housed in City jails who is eligible to vote has the unfettered opportunity to cast their ballot,” she continued. “The NYC Council must hold an oversight hearing to enhance the City’s commitment to and investment in voter registration, education, and ballot collection for all incarcerated New Yorkers.”