40k Marylanders Set to Regain Rights as Legislature Passes Voting Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    
Contact: Victoria Wenger, 202-728-9557, vwenger@advancementproject.org
April 10, 2015    

40,000 Marylanders Set to Regain Voting Rights as State Legislature Passes Historic Voting Law

WASHINGTON – Today Maryland’s General Assembly passed a key voting rights bill to restore the right to vote for nearly 40,000 residents. The bill will now advance to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for his review. If signed, the law would automatically reinstate the right to vote for individuals released after incarceration, allowing persons on probation and parole to vote. Advancement Project, a leading national civil rights and racial justice organization, released the following statement commending passage of this historic legislation:

“We commend Maryland’s legislature for taking this important stride towards a more just and inclusive democracy,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. “No one should be deprived of their fundamental right to vote. As a result of today’s vote, a path has been set for people to fully rejoin their communities and stand alongside their neighbors at the voting booth. This is a momentous day for the 40,000 Marylanders who are set to regain their voice in our political process, and for all who believe in the values of inclusive democracy. Laws that disenfranchise voters based on felony convictions are known to have a disparate impact on voters of color. In Maryland, African Americans have accounted for 65 percent of those disenfranchised due to a prior felony conviction, while comprising only 30 percent of the state’s population. Governor Hogan must do the right thing and sign this historic bill.”

“We applaud the efforts of the courageous grassroots advocates across Maryland who fought for this legislation,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “There are endless benefits to restoring voting rights for people released from incarceration, including the fostering of full community integration and the fulfillment of our core democratic principles. Maryland’s actions to expand voting rights today mark a crucial step, but we must not forget the over 5 million Americans – disproportionately people of color – who remain unable to cast ballots because of prior felony convictions. Nationwide, one in every 13 Black adults cannot vote as the result of such convictions. We hope other states will follow Maryland’s lead and act decisively to expand access to the ballot for all.”

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Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.