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Cardin Renews Call to Create a National Standard for Restoring Voting Rights

July 22nd, 2017 by WCBC Radio

As the Trump Administration look for ways to legalize voter suppression through its Commission on Election Integrity, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced legislation – the Democracy Restoration Act of 2017 that would strengthen American communities by restoring voting rights to individuals after they have returned to their communities after being released from incarceration. Studies indicate that former prisoners who have voting rights restored are less likely to reoffend, and that disenfranchisement hinders their rehabilitation and reintegration into their community.

 

“The United States is one of the few Western democracies that allows the permanent denial of voting rights for individuals with felony convictions. It’s simply wrong that state disenfranchisement laws deny citizens participation in our democracy,” said Senator Cardin. “Casting a vote is one of the most fundamental rights in a democracy and gives you a say in the future of your community. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that right is protected and should be leading an effort to remove barriers and make it easier for more people to register to vote, cast their vote, and make sure their votes are counted.”

 

In the United States, an estimated 6.1 million adult citizens are currently disenfranchised as a result of a criminal conviction. While 16 states and the District of Columbia already restore voting rights upon release from prison, 34 states continue to restrict the voting rights of people who are no longer incarcerated. In 10 States, a conviction can result in lifetime disenfranchisement. Several States deny the right to vote to individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors. Since March 2016, Maryland automatically restores voting rights after individuals are released from prison. The law went into effect after the legislature successfully overrode a veto from Governor Larry Hogan (R-Md.). The new law immediately restored voting rights to approximately 40,000 Marylanders.

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