April 28, 2020
By Anthony Paolazzi
It used to be against the law in New Jersey for people on parole or probation to register to vote. However, that is no longer the case.
This means that anyone who lives in New Jersey and is not in prison can register to vote. New Jersey is the nineteenth state to adopt such a law.
When signing the legislation, Murphy said it ensures that a person can “once again walk into a voting booth and have a say in our democracy” upon being released from prison.
Lyndhurst Police Officer Sergeant Passamano, who is a school resource officer and advisor of the Law Enforcement Club, said he is unsure if the law will have a major impact on election outcomes.
“Only about 25 percent of the American population that can vote actually vote,” Passamano said.
Despite typically low voter turnout at elections, Passamano said voting is important, and the more people who do it, the better.
“If people currently on parole or probation choose to vote, it will have a positive effect on the United States because it is good to have more people voting in the country,” Passamano said.
History teacher Mr. Newman, who teaches a Law & Civics class, said his feelings about the new law are neutral.
“I believe in our criminal justice system,” Newman said. “I believe people who are on probation or parole have paid their debt to society, but I wouldn’t necessarily be in favor of people who had felony convictions to get these or other rights back.”
“If people currently on parole or probation choose to vote, it will have a positive effect on the United States because it is good to have more people voting in the country.”
Like Passamano, Newman said he doubts the law will have any real impact.
“For someone to be on probation or parole, it’s a little doubtful they are the most civically-minded citizen that has a desire to vote. It’s also already a small percentage of our population,” Newman said. “Even if they voted as a block, I doubt they would affect election results.”
In contrast to Newman, Sophomore Alexa Espinoza said she believes the new law is significant.
“This affects voting as a whole because when it’s [the] time of elections, we are not getting real feedback because not everyone’s opinion is being counted,” Espinoza said.
She said she supports the law because everyone should have the right to vote.
“Individuals who have served time in prison have already paid their dues and their debt to society, so to take away their right of voting once released is punishing them further than needed,” said Espinoza.