MD Lawmakers Overrule Governor, Allow Ex-Offenders To Vote Sooner

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Until yesterday, Maryland was one of 35 states that prohibit felons from voting even after they complete their terms of incarceration. The Maryland State Senate overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto in a 29-18 vote for a law that will allow the state’s 40,000 ex-offenders to vote while on parole or probation, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The Maryland House overrode the governor’s veto last month. Current policy requires convicts to finish parole and probation before their voting rights are restored. Proponents of the latest measure say the disenfranchisement of ex-offenders makes reintegration unnecessarily difficult. They note that parolees are affected by political decisions for issues such as housing and employment.

Opponents argue that while felons should be allowed to vote, they should first have to complete every segment of their sentence, to pay their debt to society. “Today, twenty-nine people in the Maryland Senate decided to ignore reason and common sense and support an action that the vast majority of Marylanders vehemently oppose,” said Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer. A 2014 YouGov poll found that 67 percent of Americans believe that felons should either never lose their right to vote or be allowed to vote after their sentences are complete. Twenty-one percent of surveyed citizens believe that a conviction should mean permanent disenfranchisement.

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