Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Maryland
Current Felony Disenfranchisement Law
In Maryland, individuals are automatically restored their right to vote upon completion of their sentence, including prison, parole and probation.
2005. The Brennan Center has assisted Maryland advocates over several years in their reform efforts. In 2007, the Center drafted the bill (now law) that re-enfranchised individuals after they have completed their sentences. On April 24th, 2007 Governor Martin O’Malley signed this historic legislation restoring the right to vote to over 50,000 Maryland citizens.
Along with drafting the bill, the Brennan Center testified in support of reform. On March 7th, 2007, Brennan Center attorney Renée Paradis testified before the Maryland State Senate. Paradis was joined by law enforcement officials, religious leaders, people with felony convictions, and good government advocates. Supporters included former state’s attorney and Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, National Black Police Association representative Ron Stalling, and actor and director Charles Dutton.
In the past, the Center and its state partners conducted a survey in Maryland to investigate how well local election officials understood and followed one of the most complex state laws in the country. Now that Maryland has streamlined its system, the Center will work with its state allies to monitor compliance with the new law
On July 2, 2007 activists from the coalition “Maryland Got Democracy” held a press conference to publicize the “Voting Registration Protection Act of 2007” that restores voting rights to 52,000 state ex-offenders—before seven of these newly eligible citizens entered the Baltimore City Board of Elections and registered to vote. Press conference speakers include Kimberly Haven (Executive Director, Justice Maryland), Marlo Hargrove (Director, Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-offenders), David Waller (a newly eligible voter) and Millie Tyssowski (League of Women Voters of Baltimore City). After the newly eligible voters register to vote, brief interviews are conducted with Haven, Anthony Harrison (Executive Director, Changing Directions, LLD), Walter Lomax (a newly registered voter), Chris Montague (who registered to vote along with his father), Meredith Curtis (Director of Public Outreach, ACLU of Maryland) and Kara Gotsch (Director of Advocacy, The Sentencing Project).