The Maryland Senate today overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that will finally allow Marylanders convicted of a felony to vote in elections once they have been released from prison. This is the culmination of years of work by many groups, including OSI-Baltimore, to advocate for the rights of returning citizens to participate in the political process.
As recently as 15 years ago, Marylanders convicted of a felony lost their voting rights for the rest of their lives. Then, felons could vote, but they had to wait three years after their sentence–including parole, probation, fines, and restitution–were completed. In 2007, the three-year waiting period was dropped, and with today’s move, returning citizens can now vote as soon as they have completed their prison sentence.
Jane Henderson, executive director of Communities United, told the Washington Post that the 29-18 vote to override the veto “is a huge victory for voting rights, not just in Maryland but in the country.” OSI-Baltimore supports Communities United’s efforts to help returning citizens and people overcoming a substance use disorder advocate for themselves and for systemic changes that support their rehabilitation and recovery. We believe that helping these individuals fully engage in civic life helps to reduce recidivism and advance our goal of reducing mass incarceration in Maryland.