Speed Reads

criminal justice reform

6 states have restored felons' voting rights. Maryland might be the seventh.

Voting rights for felons vary widely by state: In Vermont, everyone can vote, while in Florida, a felony conviction means permanent disenfranchisement. The last six years have seen as many states make significant (if varying) reforms to loosen voting restrictions within their borders, and Maryland may soon be the seventh.

A bill at the state legislature would allow felons to vote after their parole or probation is completed. Maryland's governor vetoed the proposal, which would restore voting rights to some 63,000 people, this past summer, but in 2016 a bipartisan coalition in Annapolis is expected to muster enough votes for a veto override.

"There is a recognition that we need a system in which voters and taxpayers see a good return on their investment in the criminal justice system and right now we're just not seeing that," said Myrna Perez, of the Brennan Center for Justice, which backs the Maryland bill. "That recognition is getting a tremendous amount of bipartisan agreement."