Photo: A garbage bin outside a parole office filled with discarded voter registration forms that were given to parolees by parole officers.
Submitted photo and information from Assemblyman Steve Hawley.
According to information obtained by Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia), a memo has been issued directing all department parole officers to begin presenting newly pardoned felons with voter registration forms, help them complete the process of registering to vote, and help them locate the local Board of Elections during the course of their taxpayer-funded duties.
It is from Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci of New York State Corrections and Community Supervision, a department under Gov. Cuomo.
The three-page memo, dated May 22, was circulated to all bureau chiefs, all chiefs of the Parole Violation Unit, all senior parole officers, and all parole revocation specialists. CC'd on the memo were executive, associate and assistant commissioners, the director of Internal Operations, regional directors, assistant regional directors, the director of Executive Clemency and the deputy chief of the Parole Violation Unit.
Executive Order 181 "Restoring the Right to Vote for Parolees" states in part “…the Parole Officer must also provide the recipient (of the pardon certificate) with the NYS Voter Registration Form and the NYS Voting Rights form…The Parole Officer must be prepared to assist the parolee with filling out the registration form and the Parole Officer is responsible for providing information regarding the location of the local Board of Elections.”
It says this "requires high priority attention..." and at the bottom of the memo is this: "PLEASE NOTE: This is a priority initiative and needs to be completed as soon as possible."
“This is the most outlandish abuse of power and taxpayer-funded resources I’ve witnessed in my time as a legislator,” Hawley said. “Gov. Cuomo is using state employees as campaign workers to register recently paroled felons to vote. Absolutely outrageous.”
The memo dictates detailed instructions for corrections employees on how to execute pardons and help parolees register to vote and does not specify that this be done outside the purview of their official, taxpayer-funded duties.
“This governor continues to use our money as his money and there seems to be no bound to how autocratic his tenure has become,” Hawley continued. “It’s very possible that there is added pressure on Parole Officers to hit some sort of ‘quota’ on registrations ahead of the governor’s upcoming gubernatorial primary.”