Today the Maryland State Senate overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s 2015 veto of legislation (HB 980/SB 340) restoring voting rights to 40,000 formerly incarcerated persons in the state, allowing them to register to vote after they are released. With the House having voted last month, the new law will finally go into effect on March 10. Newly eligible Marylanders will be able to register to vote in the upcoming primary.
In response, Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action, issued the following statement:
“This is a victory for one of the most fundamental rights we have as Americans: the right to cast a vote that counts. Systematically keeping thousands of people from voting after they leave prison is not only wrong, it diminishes the integrity of a system that is supposed to represent all of us. Our democracy is at its strongest when all voices can be heard.”
“This is a great day for Maryland,” added Rev. Barry Hargrove, a Maryland member of affiliate PFAW Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, pastor of Prince of Peace Baptist Church in Baltimore, and president of the Maryland Progressive Baptist Convention. “Today our state moved to restore voting rights to 40,000 of our neighbors who live in, raise families in, and contribute to our communities – and our state will be stronger for it.”
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.