These are probably frightening words to anyone who wants to maintain the political status quo: “I have a criminal record. I pledge to vote in 2016 elections because I care about my neighborhood and want to add my voice to improve everyone’s quality of life.” Let’s just suppose that a significant barrier to voting in Maryland is removed Feb. 5th and residents with felony convictions are allowed to vote as soon as they leave prison, rather than having to wait until they complete community supervision requirements. “We’re talking about infusing maybe 40,000 voters into the democratic process,” says Perry Hopkins, a community organizer who has been ubiquitous on this issue as well as on the untenable conditions that led city housing officials to agree to pay up to $8 million to settle sexual harassment claims brought by some of its public housing tenants.
Most of these ex-felons are Baltimore residents, and we know that Baltimore is a city whose voters register overwhelmingly Democratic. So suppose, in response to registration campaigns underway, a lot of those ex-felons in Baltimore pledge to “vote in 2016 elections” as Mr. Hopkins employer, Communities United, is urging. Why would Republicans go along with such a monumental shift in voting law?
Of course, given a history of not exactly being icons of conformity, these potential voters are not necessarily Democratic Party sycophants, going along to get along, as it were. So maybe some Democrats, more concerned about remaining in office rather than the people who put them in office, might be quietly wary of rushing a new class of voters onto the rolls.
When you get right down to it, these are more likely the considerations that state senators are grappling with as they decide whether to join the House of Delegates in overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that would permit people on parole or probation to vote in Maryland.
Of course, no one will say that.
Full Article: Ex-offenders and the right to vote – Baltimore Sun.