ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A bill to restore voting rights to ex-offenders is on Governor Hogan’s desk. The same groups that championed it in the General Assembly are urging him to sign it.
Political reporter Pat Warren reports it gives ex-offenders the right to vote while still on parole or probation.
West Baltimore, the center of recent unrest, is also home to large numbers of ex-offenders who want the governor to sign a bill restoring the right to vote immediately after release.
“If we pay taxes, we should be able to vote,” said one man.
The organization Communities United says more than half of prisoners released in Maryland return to neighborhoods in West Baltimore.
“I think there are a lot of issues that come about in areas like the one that Freddie Gray lived in. You have a lot of young men who cannot vote, so they feel as if they have no control over their destiny,” said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D) Baltimore.
Governor Hogan ten days ago agreed to address issues beyond policing that affect communities here.
“Get this city back on track and then we can focus on some of these other longer term problems,” the governor said.
“We get through this together, then we’ll move along on other things,” one man said.
This, supporters hope, will be one of them.
“Give us the opportunity to vote,” said Perry Hopkins, Communities United.
Should the governor choose not to sign or veto the bill, it will automatically become law.
The governor has a bill signing Tuesday morning.