Previous rules forced ex-convicts to wait until they were no longer on parole or probation. But now, more than 40,000 Maryland residents will get the right to vote right after their release.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed similar bills in both the state’s House and Senate, but both vetoes were overruled by legislators Tuesday. (Video via WMAR)
Hogan wrote on Facebook that legislators "just voted to ignore the overwhelming majority of Marylanders by granting current felons the right to vote."
Hogan hasn’t really had much of a say in anything lately. Each of the six bills he vetoed in 2015 were overturned by the Democrat-dominated House.
Perry Hopkins, an ex-convict who advocated for the bill, told MSNBC: "From the minute you are released from prison, you are able to pay taxes, you are working to reintegrate back into society in a productive way, and you deserve the full rights of citizenship. It’s just that simple."
Democrats said the bill helps offenders reacclimate to society. They also claimed previous voting laws unfairly targeted black citizens who are more likely to face jail time. Almost two-thirds of those affected by the new rules are black.
The law will go into effect in March, giving those affected by it the chance to exercise their new right in time for the 2016 primary elections.