On the eve of what is expected to be a close vote in the Maryland Senate to expand felon voting rights, some Republicans are raising questions about whether a newly appointed Democratic senator should participate. Joe Cluster, executive director of the state GOP, said Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery) should recuse himself when the Senate votes on whether to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a 2015 bill that would allow felons to vote while on parole or probation. Zucker voted in favor of the override as a member of the House of Delegates last month, before he was sworn in to fill a Senate seat vacated by former senator Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery). Democratic leaders have said they will need his support to amass the 29 votes needed for the override to pass the Senate.
Although an attorney for the General Assembly said there is no legal reason Zucker can’t vote both as a delegate and a senator, Custer said the lawmaker “should recuse himself. He’s already gotten a vote.”
In a letter to Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore County) on Friday, General Assembly counsel Sandra Benson Brantley wrote that “if the Senate considers the individual in question a member of the Senate when the veto override is taken, his or her vote should be considered a valid vote.”