New Jersey lawmakers advance bill to let some convicts vote

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New Jersey convicts on parole or probation would have their right to vote restored under a bill working through the state Legislature.

The measure approved Monday by the Democrat-led Assembly would restore voting rights to roughly 80,000 convicts. It was passed 46-23, with one abstention.

People convicted of a crime are currently barred from voting in New Jersey. But under the legislation, those who are out on parole or probation could cast their ballots.

“Today you're restoring the rights of a human being who made a mistake. That to me is not about being a Democratic agenda,” said Democratic Assemblyman James Holley.

Most Republicans were opposed to the bill, saying it lacked common sense since the convicts hadn’t yet paid their “debt to society.”

“Some of my colleagues have said, ‘I think our priorities are a little screwed up today. It's like Criminal Appreciation Day,’” said Republican Assemblyman Hal Wirths.

The bill still needs to pass the state Senate before heading to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk. The governor has said that he supports restoring voting rights to those released from prison.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Jersey would join 16 other states and the District of Columbia that bar only those convicts who are incarcerated from voting.

MORE: Current Voter Restoration Handbook

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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