"This is a progressive moment in Maryland and a new direction for our State," said Kimberly Haven, executive director of Justice Maryland, in a prepared statement to the press. Ms. Haven herself had been disenfranchised due to a felony record. "By signing this legislation, Maryland moves into the political mainstream. We applaud the commitment of the Governor and the members of the General Assembly who voted to support expanded democracy in Maryland."
Maryland joins a national trend of expanding voting access to people with felony convictions. This month, Florida paved the way to restore the vote to hundreds of thousands of people who had completed their felony terms, and previously were permanently barred from voting In November, Rhode Island residents voted in favor of a measure that removed the voting ban for people under felony probation and parole supervision. As of today, a total of 39 states and the District of Columbia allow voting upon completion of sentence, if not sooner.
Since 1997, 16 states have taken steps to reform disenfranchisement laws, and prior to April 2007 more than 630,000 people had regained their voting rights, according to analysis conducted by The Sentencing Project.
In a prepared statement to the press, Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, said, "Antiquated laws still disenfranchise millions of Americans for their past mistakes. Changing these laws will contribute to successful re-entry and rehabilitation."