The Maryland Senate Tuesday morning voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s last remaining veto, granting voting rights to felons on parole. That means Democrats in the General Assembly have overridden all six of the Republican governor’s vetoes from last year.
The bill in question gives felons the right to vote when they’re released from prison. Thirteen states and D.C. already allow this, but current Maryland law doesn’t let felons vote until they’ve completed their entire sentence, including parole and probation.
Supporters of the change say current law prevents more than 40,000 people in Maryland from voting. Senate President Mike Miller sees the vote as historic in the ongoing effort to broaden the right to vote, pointing out that only white male Protestant property owners could vote when the U.S. was founded.
“The English just traded the right to vote among themselves. And when they came to America, people gradually got the right to vote. Catholics got the right to vote in 1776. Jews got the right to vote in 1815. African-Americans got the right to vote with the 13th amendment in the 1860s. Native Americans got to vote shortly thereafter. Women got the right to vote in 1919.”
Miller says the override should not be viewed as a political victory for Democrats or a blow to the Republican governor. But votes did break down along party lines, with a handful of Democrats joining all Republicans in supporting Hogan’s veto.