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 reestablished. 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