The United States of America is a democratic society. One of the most important rights for citizens in such a society is his/her right to vote. It is widely believed that once someone is convicted of a felony, he/she loses the right to vote forever. In reality, former felons’ voting rights vary from state to state. In Maryland, people with felonies on their record were not allowed to vote until they completed their or parole. Now, that policy is a thing of the past, after a vote by the Maryland State Senate.
The bill was the sixth that Hogan vetoed from last year’s General Assembly, and the sixth the Democratic-controlled legislature reinstated this year. The House of Delegates voted to override Hogan’s veto last month, and on Tuesday, the Senate voted 29-18 to overrule the governor.
The passage of the bill opens the door for an estimated 20,000 returning citizens to vote in the elections for Baltimore’s next mayor, City Council and the next President of the United States. One of those returning citizens is Marcus Toles of West Baltimore, who came home three months ago after serving five years on felony drug charges. “I am overwhelmed with joy,” said Toles, minutes after the Senate’s vote. “I can finally have my voice heard after doing my time and trying to be a productive member of society.”
He expounded, “We’ve done our time, you take our taxes. It’s hard enough we get every door slammed in our faces. We paid our debt to society. We’re out here striving not to go back, and you want to take our right to vote? I think our voices should be heard.”