Communities United rallies in front of Hogan's Baltimore office on May 11 to urge him to sign legislation extending voting rights to citizens on release from prison.
The majority of the men and women who will be enfranchised by SB340/HB980 live in West Baltimore.
Call Governor Hogan at 410-974-3901 and tell him: To heal Baltimore, you must sign SB340/HB980!
Former prisoners and their supporters gathered outside Governor Hogan's Baltimore office today to urge him to sign SB 340/HB980.This bill, which overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly last month, would restore voting rights to Maryland citizens who live in our communities but cannot vote because of a criminal conviction in their past.
“What has happened over the last couple weeks in Baltimore shows us the danger of shutting people out of the democratic processes that impact their lives,” said Perry Hopkins, a community organizer with Communities United and a leader in the efforts that passed SB340/HB980. “The governor came to Baltimore last week wanting to help us heal and rebuild. Signing this bill will go a long way toward making us feel like we have a stake in our communities and that we matter.”
Sandtown-Winchester, the neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested, has the highest rate of incarceration in Baltimore and the state overall. More than half of all prisoners released in Maryland every year return to West Baltimore neighborhoods like Sandtown. The majority of the men and women who will be enfranchised by SB340/HB980 live in West Baltimore.
“About 40,000 of our neighbors throughout the State of Maryland are removed from the electoral process,” said Delegate Cory McCray. “Now is the time to give the disenfranchised a voice.”
Current law suppresses the vote as State and local boards of elections can not verify who is eligible to register and vote. Hence, ex-offenders already eligible do not vote because they are afraid of getting in trouble again. SB340/HB980, introduced by Delegate McCray and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, both representing Baltimore City, simplifies the process by allowing an individual to become eligible to vote upon release from prison or if they are no longer incarcerated.