Amid a national movement to make it easier for ex-felons to vote, Maryland could be next to take a step forward on the issue. A bill that would allow most ex-felons to vote after being released from prison passed both houses Thursday and went to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican. Currently, ex-felons must complete parole and probation before getting their voting rights back. “The governor is still reviewing that legislation and hasn’t taken a position yet,” Erin Montgomery, a Hogan spokeswoman, told msnbc. She said the governor is expected to make a decision in the next few days. If signed into law, the bill would restore voting rights for an estimated 40,000 people.
Hogan is seen as a relative moderate. Last month, he announced his support for the Maryland Second Chance Act, which would make it easier for people with non-violent misdemeanors to shield court and police records after three years, helping them to find work.
But re-enfranchising ex-felons could hurt the GOP in Maryland. Currently, over 63,000 Marylanders are disenfranchised because of past felonies, according to numbers compiled by The Sentencing Project. Around 65% of them are African-American.