Released Felons Gain Right to Vote in Maryland
Just in time for this year’s election, the Maryland legislature overturned Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill to extend voting rights to felons before they complete probation and parole. This means that more than 40,000 recently released Maryland felons could regain their right to vote.
The vote to overturn the Governor’s veto was twice delayed while proponents generated support and passionate debate held sway on both sides of the political aisle. Proponents of the bill cited the need to resolve racial disparities in the criminal justice system, arguing that the existing system requiring felons to complete probation and parole before registering to vote is confusing, unnecessary and demoralizing to ex-offenders just beginning the process of rebuilding their lives.
Last spring, Governor Hogan vetoed the law as improperly restoring rights to people who had not yet paid their debt to society. He maintained this position throughout the debate. The vote largely fell along party lines, with Republicans in the Senate siding with Hogan and Democrats supporting override of the veto.
Released felons who are eligible voters are required to register by April 5 to vote in the primary.