In a democracy, voting is one of the most fundamental rights of citizenship, connecting us to our community and infusing in us a sense of civic responsibility.   In addition, serving on a jury remains a privilege that permits citizens to personally support all Americans’ right to a trial by a jury of their peers.

Forty-eight states currently maintain some form of restrictions on the voting rights of people with felony convictions.  Most states forbid currently incarcerated people from voting, while others extend such bans to parolees and probationers, and still others disenfranchise felons for life.  Felony convictions also have serious implications for people who want to serve on a jury.

In New York State , individuals who are convicted of felonies and sentenced to incarceration lose the right to vote while they are incarcerated and/or on parole (an individual sentenced to probation or any other non-incarceratory disposition, never lose their right to vote).  In addition, to serve on a jury, a person must not have been convicted of a felony.   However, a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities issued to an eligible individual can remove barriers to voting and serving on a jury.  This section offers information on the effects of a criminal conviction on civic participation, mechanisms for removing barriers to voting, and timely research and dialogue surrounding this important issue.