Our bill to extend voting rights to all citizens once they are released from prison (SB340/HB980) has overwhelming passed the General Assembly and is on the way to Governor Larry Hogans' desk.
Now we need to urge the governor to sign it. Please sign this petition to Governor Hogan and follow it up with a phone call today to him TODAY at 410-974-3901. Tell the staff person answering the phone that you support SB340 and urge the governor to sign it. They will ask for your phone number and address, which it is important you share so they know that you are a real, live Marylander. A spokesperson for the governor told MSNBC on Friday that his decision on whether to sign or veto will come very soon so the governor needs to hear from you ASAP!
The bill has been championed the Unlock the Vote coalition, lead by Communities United and including Out for Justice, the ACLU of Maryland, the Center for Popular Democracy, Brennan Center for Justice, the Sentencing Project, Common Cause Maryland, Maryland Working Families, MD State Conference of the NAACP, the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP, the Prince George's County Branch of the NAACP, and the National NAACP and the NAACP National Voter Fund. Other supporters of this 2015 legislation include 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, SEIU Local 500, SEIU 32BJ, Prison Ministry Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the Job Opportunities Task Force, SAVE Our Votes, Colorofchange.org, People for the American Way, the Democracy Initiative, the American Probation and Parole Association, the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, and Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
We continue to be united in urging Governor Hogan to sign SB340:
“This legislation will have an important and positive impact on our lives,” said Perry Hopkins, an ex-offender organizer with Communities United. “It opens the door to participation to thousands of returning citizens struggling with the re-entry process and brings them back into full citizenship. We hope and pray that Governor Hogan will see the wisdom in signing it.”
“SB340/HB980 will strengthen our communities. The majority of citizens regaining their voting rights under this legislation are African American and we know that returning citizens who vote are less likely to offend again.It is a win for civil rights and public safety,” said Gerald Stansbury, President of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP. “We applaud the General Assembly for its passage of the bill and urge the governor to sign it.”
“Americans believe in second chances. Restoring a person’s right to vote once they’ve paid their debt to society gives them an opportunity for redemption and a chance to be full members of their community,” said Tomas Lopez, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “This bill will help thousands of people who live, work, and raise families in Maryland. Our democracy will only grow stronger when more citizens participate. We applaud the General Assembly for passing SB 340, and call on Governor Hogan to sign it.”
“More than 50 years since the historic march in Selma, Alabama and enactment of the Voting Rights Act, nearly 2.2 million African Americans nationwide still cannot vote because of a criminal conviction. In Maryland, they constitute two-thirds of those denied the vote – the most fundamental right of any democratic society,” said Katrina Gamble, Director of Civic Engagement & Politics at the Center for Popular Democracy. “With his signature, Governor Hogan can unlock the vote for thousands of probationers and parolees and help heal the wounds that have divided our nation for far too long.”
“Maryland's current policy has a clearly disproportionate impact on the voting rights of African Americans,” said Toni Holness of the ACLU of Maryland. “We hope the Governor will sign this important legislation – this is an effort to safeguard the political voice of marginalized communities.”