NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork/AP) – New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Wednesday that restores voting rights for convicted criminals who are out on parole or probation.

The measure will apply to roughly 80,000 convicts starting in March.

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“These are residents who are living as full participants in their communities and yet have been needlessly prevented from having a voice in the future direction of their communities,” Murphy said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Jersey now joins 16 other states and the District of Columbia that bar only convicts who are incarcerated from voting. Most Republicans opposed the bill, saying it lacked common sense because the convicts hadn’t yet paid their “debt to society.”

Murphy also signed another measure aimed at making it easier for people convicted of low-level crimes to clear their records.

The governor said the initiatives are part of what he calls his Second Chance agenda.

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