A freshman delegate in the Maryland General Assembly is championing a cause that has deep personal meaning for him: the restoration of full voting rights for ex-offenders. Del. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore), who was arrested on the streets of East Baltimore more times than he can remember, recognizes that he could easily have been among the estimated 40,000 ex-offenders in Maryland who face obstacles to voting. The former teenage drug dealer is the lead House sponsor of a bill that promotes voting rights for former felons who have been prohibited from casting a ballot in Maryland. Nationally, an estimated 5.85 million Americans are unable to vote because of felony convictions, according to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit criminal justice think tank.
“Because they are not engaged in the process, they get left behind,” McCray said of the ex-offenders. “We have to figure out how to engage them in the process.”
The legislation, which has 51 co-sponsors in the House, will be taken up Thursday in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, where Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) expects passage. Conway is chairman of the committee and the bill’s lead Senate sponsor.