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Should Felons Get Their Votes Back After They’re Released?

Photo credit: Inside CCA. Two inmates with worker at the Metro Female Programs.

Maryland’s Democratic General Assembly is battling the state’s Republican governor over when felons should regain the right to vote.

The Maryland House of Delegates voted Wednesday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that would give felons voting rights the moment they step out of prison, The Baltimore Sun reports. The Senate could vote to override it Thursday.

“Some of us don’t know what an ex-felon looks like. I am he!,” said Perry Hopkins, a Baltimore man who left prison four years ago. “This is what he looks like. Me! My kids go to school with your kids.”

Washington, D.C. and 13 other states give voting rights back to felons when they finish serving their time. Currently, Maryland law gives voting rights back when felons finish their parole or probation. Support for the Maryland bill is mostly from Democrats.

“I’m 54 years old. I’ve never been in a voter’s booth, as a result of this law and a long life of crime,” Hopkins said.

Meanwhile, Hogan has about a two-thirds approval rating from Maryland residents. The governor sent a letter to Maryland legislators explaining his veto, and said forcing felons to finish parole and probation “achieves the proper balance between repayment of obligations to society for a felony conviction and the restoration of the various restricted rights.”

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