The state laws that will bar nearly six million people with felony convictions from voting in this year’s presidential election are the shame of the democratic world. Virtually all disenfranchised Americans would be free to vote were they citizens of countries like Australia, Spain, France, Ireland or Germany. Indeed, many nations around the world view voting rights as so fundamental to citizenship that they bring the ballot box right into prison. By contrast, three quarters of this country’s disenfranchised voters live outside the prison walls: Some have actually completed their sentences, while others are on probation or parole.
The Maryland legislature broke with that tradition on Tuesday, when it overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill allowing felons to vote while still on parole or probation. The bill restores that right to nearly 40,000 people.
The governor argued that the bill unjustly rewarded people who still owed a debt to society. But legislators were persuaded to override the veto by research showing that people who have voting rights are less likely to commit new crimes or return to prison. The measure drew strong support from several law enforcement and criminal justice organizations, including the American Probation and Parole Association. The group told the legislature that “civic participation” was crucial to the process that helps people leave crime behind to become “law-abiding” citizens.
Full Article: A Victory for Voting Rights in Maryland – The New York Times.