New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Signs Bill to Restore Voting Rights to People on Probation and Parole

Governor Phil Murphy today signed a bill restoring voting rights to more than 80,000 people who had been barred from voting because they are on probation or parole.

The bill, A-5823, was passed on November 25 by the Assembly and on December 16 by the Senate. It restores voting rights upon a person’s release from prison, and to those on parole or probation. The law will go into effect 90 days from signing, or March 17, 2020.

“By signing this bill, Governor Murphy has given more than 80,000 people a voice in the decisions that affect them and their families. New Jerseyans should feel proud to welcome all of these people back into our democracy,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program.

“Our Administration is deeply committed to transforming our criminal justice system, and today we are taking a historic step to give residents impacted by that system a second chance,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to enact legislation that will restore voting rights to over 80,000 residents on probation or parole, allowing them to fully participate in our democracy.”

“On this historic day, New Jersey has lifted my colleague Ron Pierce — a veteran, husband and college graduate — and 83,000 ghosts of democracy out of the shadows so that they can finally be seen, heard, and represented,” said Ryan P. Haygood, president & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Two years after we and our partners launched the 1844 No More campaign — named for the year New Jersey denied the vote to people with convictions and restricted voting to white men in its Constitution — we are proud to stand with the Governor and Legislature in helping New Jersey to become 1844 no more.”

“New Jersey is taking a huge step toward a more inclusive, representative democracy,” said Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Our democracy is made stronger when all voices are heard.”

New Jersey joins 18 other states and Washington, D.C. that allow people who are on probation or parole to vote.

Resources on rights restoration

Brennan Center: Criminal Disenfranchisement Laws Across the United States

Brennan Center: New Jersey’s Chance to Expand Democracy

Brennan Center: Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in New Jersey

NJISJ: Value to the Soul: People with Criminal Convictions on the Power of the Vote

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that works to reform, revitalize – and when necessary, defend – our country's systems of democracy and justice.

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice is a Newark-based organization dedicated to toppling load-bearing walls of structural inequality to create just, vibrant, and healthy communities.

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.