maryland lawmakers on tuesday expanded voting rights for people with felony convictions by overriding governor larry hogan's veto of house bill 980. the action restores voting rights to about 40,000 people on felony parole or probation. maryland was one of 35 states who disenfranchised people on parole or probation: individuals living in the community but unable to vote.
marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project said, "maryland lawmakers have taken an important step in expanding the vote to people with felony convictions living in the community. restricting voting rights is deeply problematic for a democratic society and compounds the social isolation of formerly incarcerated persons from their communities."
nationally, 5.85 million americans are prohibited from voting due to laws disenfranchising citizens convicted of felony offenses. these policies vary by state, and arbitrarily oppress people in prison, on parole, probation, or with past convictions. maryland now joins connecticut and rhode island as states to recently expand voting rights to such people.
felony disenfranchisement has produced broad racial disparities in its impact as well. in america, one in every 13 black adults cannot vote as a result of a felony conviction. moreover, in two states in particular - florida and virginia - more than 20% of black adults suffer disenfranchisement.
civic participation has been linked to lower recidivism rates. in one study, among individuals who had been previously arrested, 27% of nonvoters were re-arrested, compared with 12% of voters. although the limitations of the data available preclude undeniable proof of direct causation, its clear voting appears to compliment pro-social behavior, which might impact lower crime rates.
nicole d. porter, director of advocacy of the sentencing project said, "we are encouraged by state officials who are reconsidering unfair disenfranchisement policies. 23 states have enacted reforms since 1997. this reform offers an opportunity to strengthen the democratic process and we hope this will be followed by a commitment to notify impacted persons their voting rights have been restored."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.