Maryland Democrats are seeking to overturn a 2015 gubernatorial veto that stripped nearly 40,000 former felons of their voting rights.
Last year, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill, passed by the Democratic-led Congress, that would have permitted former prisoners to vote once they were released. Hogan argued that the bill did not take into consideration factors like parole and probation, thus allowing the individuals to vote before they fully served their sentence.
“The fact is that persons released from incarceration on parole or mandatory supervision are still serving their time as a debt to society for their actions,” Hogan wrote as part of his veto.
However, Democratic lawmakers say that stripping former prisoners of their voting rights hinders their reintegration into society. Many activists point to the fact that the law also unfairly targets African-Americans, considering that 75 percent of the state’s prison population is Black.
“You really feel disenfranchised, you feel ostracized, you feel alienated, you feel victimized,” community activist Perry Hopkins said to the Huffington Post. “I’m expected to do the same thing as everyone else, without the same rights. It’s that impact that makes a lot of people recidivate, because you start feeling hopeless.”
Democrats are expected to vote to overturn Hogan’s veto sometime next week.