On January 19, 2016, Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), sent a letter to the Maryland State Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates urging them to restore the voting rights of people with felony convictions by overriding Governor Hogan’s veto of Senate Bill 340 (S.B. 340) and House Bill 980 (H.B. 980).
This legislation would provide nearly 40,000 Marylanders with the opportunity to regain their right to vote after release from prison as they work, take care of their families, and otherwise contribute to society. Research suggests that restoring the right to vote to these citizens reduces the likelihood that they will re-offend.
LDF also believes the passage of these two bills will help to bring the state’s election laws into greater conformity with fundamental principles of an inclusive democracy. Indeed, if the legislature overrides Governor Hogan’s veto, Maryland would join the growing list of more than 20 states that have engaged in legislative efforts to free the vote for people, particularly people of color, with criminal convictions, and restore them to full citizenship.
We are pleased to announce that the Maryland House of Delegates voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto on January 21, 2016. We thank our many partners who were involved in this important initiative, including the Brennan Center for Justice and many Maryland state activists.
Currently, the Maryland State Senate has scheduled an override vote on this issue on February 5, 2016. We urge Maryland residents to contact Thomas V. Miller, President of the Maryland State Senate, about this vital civil rights issue as quickly as possible.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.