Maryland the Latest State to Let Felons Vote Upon Release

By: - February 10, 2016 12:00 am

Maryland is joining 12 other states that allow people with a felony conviction to vote upon their release from prison, now that the state Senate overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a 2015 voting rights bill.

The new law, which takes effect March 10, updates Maryland’s current law that restores the right to vote for felons only after they complete probation or parole. In vetoing the bill, Hogan had said that the right should be restored only after felons had completed all the requirements of their sentence.

Some probation and parole sentences last for years, however, as Stateline has reported, and many states are taking that into consideration in reviewing their voting laws. Maryland’s new law will allow recently released convicts to vote in the November presidential election.

Nicole Hanson, a former Maryland legislative staffer who advocated for the override, said she spent three years unable to vote while she completed probation — missing the chance to re-elect Barack Obama.

“Not being able to vote is keeping people from being engaged and involved in their community,” she said. “No one wants to feel like they’re part of a social incarceration.”  

Just two states — Maine and Vermont — place no voting restrictions on felons.

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Rebecca Beitsch

Rebecca Beitsch writes about energy and the environment for Stateline. She covered state government in Missouri and North Dakota, writing about politics and policy for NewsRadio KMOX, the Columbia Missourian and the Bismarck Tribune.