First stop for this disenfranchised voter: The polls.

By Danielle Prager

Da’Ud Nashid, 50, a convicted felon who spent 28 years in a New York State prison, was one of the first to arrive at Washington Heights Academy, the polling center for the 72nd District’s State Assembly primary. He came, despite the fact that he can’t vote.

“I’m here to learn about the process,” said Nashid.

New York State law prevents individuals with a felony conviction from voting while incarcerated or on parole. Following the completion of his or her sentence and parole, the individual is required to re-register with their county’s Board of Elections.

Nashid, who did not want his picture taken, is part of the estimated 122,000 convicted felons who are disenfranchised in New York State.

“It’s part of our civic duty to vote. Not only in national elections, but in small elections like this,” said Nashid, who says he’s planning to vote as soon as he’s eligible.

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As a felon he couldn’t vote. Today George Fernandez votes for himself.

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Fernandez votes for the first time in six years, for himself. Credit: Danielle Prager/The North Polls

By Danielle Prager

For six years, while he was serving time in various New York State prisons, George Fernandez could not vote. Today he voted in the Democratic race for the 72nd District’s State Assembly primary. For himself.

Fernandez was released from his second prison term in 2002: a five-year stint at Sing Sing Correctional Facility on charges of robbery. Five years earlier, he was arrested for holding up a grocery store at gunpoint.

“Today, aside from the births of my children, is the most important day of my life,” said Fernandez. “I’ve reached the ultimate goal, casting my vote.”

New York State law prohibits convicted felons from voting while incarcerated or on parole. In order to regain voting rights, convicted felons must re-register with the state. Fernandez, who served three terms as chair of Community Board 12,  cast his vote at Washington Heights Academy in Inwood.

“Everyone has their bottom, I hit mine and it’s what led me to the decision that I need to live life better: For God, for myself, for my family and for my community,” Fernandez said. “For my life story, I’ve won already because I took it all the way to the finish line. I’m here to the end and that speaks volumes.”

Fernandez fights to take over Assembly District 72 seat

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Fernandez with his two youngest sons. Credit: Campaign Website

By Danielle Prager

George Fernandez, 43, is challenging incumbent Democrat Guillermo Linares for his Assembly District 72’s seat in Washington Heights and Inwood.

Fernandez said he had a tough upbringing, which led to his serving two, six-year prison sentences for armed robbery and driving on a suspended licence.

Crediting his tumultuous early years to a “very poor, dysfunctional home,” Fernandez has since dedicated his life to helping those with similar backgrounds. He has worked as a social worker and has placed a strong priority on reorganizing homes in hopes of creating a safer, more productive environment for his community.

“I’m not playing catch up with the streets, I’m playing catch up with my life,” he said.

Fernandez served as chairman of Community Board 12 from 2013 to 2015 and is currently the council leader of Division 376 for the Public Employees Federation.

Fernandez is Puerto Rican, setting him apart from a large portion of the Dominican community he hopes to represent, as well as from his two opposing candidates, Carmen De La Rosa and Linares.

He has raised $12,000 through Aug. 5, according to the state Board of Elections.

Campaign Platform

  • Values job creation
  • Protects small business
  • Prioritizes affordable housing
  • Against rezoning Inwood properties
  • Supports public school education with smaller classrooms