Felons typically do not have a right to vote. In fact, it’s estimated
that 5.85 million people have been barred from voting in elections, according
to FelonVoting.org. This is due to a process called disenfranchisement.
Not all states are the same, with Vermont and Maine allowing people with
felony convictions to vote while they’re in prison.
There are at least nine other states that permanently ban certain kinds
of felons from voting. It’s argued, of course, that once the people
have paid their dues, they should have their voting rights re-established.
Otherwise, it could be seen as unfair and undemocratic.
Now, in Maryland, one senator is trying to push for new federal legislation
that would allow those with felony convictions the right to vote. He believes
that this law could be changed to allow people to get back into society
without needless restraints. The report states that around 4 million people
around the nation are completely barred from voting due to felonies.
The senator believes that the prohibition falls more heavily on minorities.
In Maryland, people with felony convictions are allowed to vote once they’ve
served their time. They must serve parole and probation before they can
vote. That same law is enforced in 20 other states, according to the American
Civil Liberties Union. Approximately 1.4 percent of the voting population
in Maryland is unable to vote due to the fact that they are serving sentences.
The new bill proposed would only give non-violent criminals a chance to
vote, including those with
burglary or breaking and entering crimes that involved no outsiders. But it’s
still a step toward equality for those who have paid for their crimes.
It’s not sure if the bill will pass, but if it does, it will alter
the criminal justice system around the United States.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Cardin, Paul seek voting rights for former felons” John Fritze, Jul. 22, 2014