Momentum Builds Toward Override to Restore the Vote to More Than 40,000!

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Override vote now scheduled for Wednesday January 20! Take action today to urge your state legislators to vote FOR the override.

Communities United will be there for the vote on Wednesday! Contact Perry Hopkins at 443-680-1136 or perry@communitiesunite.org if you want to make the trip to Annapolis with us!

On Wednesday January 13 -- the opening day of the 2016 Maryland legislative session -- both the Senate and House pulled SB340/HB980 from the long list of bills vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan and "special ordered" it to next Wednesday, January 20 for a vote to override the veto! Once the veto is overridden, the bill will become law within 30 days, restoring the vote to all Marylanders with past felony convictions but longer in prison -- just in time for the 2016 elections! This will simplify the current law, which requires individuals to finish probation and parole.

On January 14, the Communities United led Unlock the Vote coalition held a press event on the steps of the Maryland Statehouse (pictured above). Unlock the Vote issued the following statement:

We urge the Maryland General Assembly to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of HB980/SB340 on January 20 and 21. This measure restores the right to vote to those convicted of a felony who have completed their prison time.

Last year, the Maryland General Assembly resoundingly passed SB340/HB980 to restore the vote to about 40,000 Maryland citizens who live in our communities but who are disenfranchised because of a criminal conviction in their past. Governor Hogan vetoed it on May 22.

Current law suppresses the vote as state and local boards of elections can not verify who is eligible to register and vote. Ex-offenders who are already eligible do not vote because they are afraid of getting in trouble again.

Experience, research and common sense tell us that those who vote have more stake in their communities and are less likely to re-offend.

Further, 2016 is a critical election year. Marylanders will vote for president as well as a new U.S. Senator and two new congressional representatives. And in Baltimore City, residents will choose a new mayor while the entire Baltimore City Council is up for re-election.

With the primary elections coming up at the end of April, it is vital that these voting rights be restored as soon as possible so that our citizens can take part in this most fundamental right as Marylanders and Americans.

The Unlock the Vote coalition includes: Communities United, 1199/SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, SEIU Local 500, SEIU 32BJ, Communication Workers of America, Maryland Working Families, SEIU, Maryland & DC State Council,Save Our Votes, Out for Justice, Maryland League of Women Voters, Common Cause Maryland, Common Cause, ACLU of Maryland, Prison Ministry Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, Center for Popular Democracy, The Sentencing Project and the Brennan Center for Justice.

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Communities United
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