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SINE DIE 2021


SINE DIE

session 2021 - ValueMyvote bill


ValueMyVote Legislation

HB222/SB224 - Sponsored by Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins and Senator Chris West, is legislation pending before the members of the Maryland General Assembly that would further facilitate the process of voting for those currently and formerly incarcerated.

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Formerly Incarcerated representation


valueMyvote legislation - Expanding voting rights in 2021


valueMyvote legislation - Expanding voting rights in 2021
Those incarcerated awaiting trial or convicted of misdemeanors would be able to register to vote and learn about their voting rights under legislation in the Maryland General Assembly this year. The Value My Vote Act, SB0224 - the senate version of the bill, was jointly referred to the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, is being sponsored by Sen. Chris West, R-Baltimore County.

The legislation has bipartisan support through its cross-filed House bill, HB0222, sponsored by Del. Jheanelle K. Wilkins, D-Montgomery and is supported by various voting rights advocacy groups including Out for Justice, Common Cause, Life After Release and Schools not Jails.

If passed, this bill would require the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to provide a voter registration application as well as documentation informing the individual that their voting rights have been restored to incarcerated felons upon their release. The department would also be required to post signage in every parole and probation office, as well as on their website, indicating that incarcerated felons are reinstated their voting rights upon release.

Another requirement of this bill is that it would provide voter registration applications and informational materials to individuals who are currently incarcerated, but have not been convicted of a felony. This would include people who are being held awaiting a trial or have been charged with a misdemeanor crime, both of which do not disqualify a person from voting. The Value My Vote Act would require the State Board of Elections or a local election board to establish a program to give out these materials at least 30 days before an election.

The Board of Elections would also be required to provide instructions on absentee voting and absentee ballot applications, as well as provide numerous opportunities for voters to register, according to a state legislative analysis. Currently, there are approximately 9,000 people in the state of Maryland who are being held awaiting trial, and approximately 15,000 who are in jail due to misdemeanor crimes, according to West.

The voting rights of convicted felons were restored in Maryland — one of 14 states that allow former felons to vote — after a change to election law in 2016. But the state needs to do more to inform inmates of their voting rights, according to the advocacy groups that gave testimony at the SB0224 bill hearing. “This proposed legislation has been battle-tested,” Nicole Hanson-Mundell, executive director of Out for Justice, an organization that advocates for criminal justice reform, said in an interview with Capital News Service.

Out for Justice worked with the state Board of Elections and created voting information packets to be distributed to local detention facilities across the state, and also went inside the Howard County Detention Center to register voters. The organization also spoke with recently released felons. “I think we engaged almost 1,000 people just in the short window between the primary and the general election,” Hanson-Mundell said.

If this bill passes, the State Board of Elections would also be required to file a report each year by Jan. 15 to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs as well as the House Ways and Means committees. This report would have information about the number of eligible voters who registered and voted successfully through an absentee ballot. The report would also need to document how many times the State Board of Elections visited each correctional facility, how long their visit was, and a description of what they did, according to the legislative analysis.


Read the article in its entirety here at: https://baltimorefishbowl.com/stories/maryland-bill-would-provide-voting-info-to-the-incarcerated/

About Us


ValueMyVote is a voter empowerment campaign aimed specifically at the education, registration and mobilization of currently and formerly incarcerated citizens who are eligible to vote in Maryland, in order to ensure that those who have had prior convictions know that they also a voice - i.e. a right to VOTE! Led by Out for Justice, the campaign also seeks to ensure that the state's current laws around voting rights for former felons are adhered to, while advocating and lobbying on behalf of legislation that positively reengages this often forgotten population.

Currently, Maryland state law allows citizens who have previously been convicted of a felony to register to vote as long as they are not currently incarcerated, i.e. "Behind the Walls". Those currently incarcerated either awaiting trial who have not been convicted of a crime, or those serving time for a misdemeanor conviction, are also eligible to vote!

If you are a formerly or currently incarcerated citizen who is eligible to vote but is not registered to vote, make sure to click on this link and get registered to vote TODAY! For further assistance, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding voting rights for those formerly incarcerated please contact Out for Justice at: (443)-563-2123 or getinfo@out4justice.org.
About Us

Timeline


 

Convicted Felons Permanently Disenfranchised

Since 1851, Maryland's Constitution permanently disenfranchised anyone convicted of a felony. This permanent ban on voting for one felony legal infraction excluded a large percentage of the state's population for decades, leaving many without a voice in the electoral process.

Jan 01, 1851
 

Advocates gain momentum with glass half-full bill

After years of fighting to restore voting rights to those convicted of a felony, advocates led by the Maryland Voting Rights Restoration Coalition, were able to get legislation passed that restored voting rights to those convicted of felony. However, they had to complete their court-ordered sentence and then wait three years before being eligible to vote.

Apr 01, 2002
 

Historic passage of the Voter Registration Protection Act

On this day, Governor Martin O'Malley signed into law the Voter Registration Protection Act of 2007, restoring voting rights to those previously convicted of a felony once they completed their court-ordered sentence. This legislation, which took five years to pass, empowered more than 50,000 citizens who had previously been barred from voting and was the most historic piece of voting legislation in Maryland during the 21st century.

Apr 24, 2007
 

Voting expanded to convicted felons not incarcerated

On this day, the democratically-led Maryland legislature voted to overturn the 2015 veto by Governor Larry Hogan that allowed for those convicted of a felony to vote even while still serving their sentence, as long as they were no longer serving their time 'Behind the Walls'. This expansive legislation empowered an additional 40,000+ citizens who were barred from voting while serving their court-ordered sentence through parole and probation.

Feb 09, 2016

Press


3/4/2020

Formerly Incarcerated Voters Marginalized in Maryland

OFJ Executive Director Nicole Hanson-Mundell pens an opinion piece speaking to the marginalization of Maryland formerly and currently incarcerated citizens as it relates to voting and more...

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5/6/2020

OFJ leads Behind the Walls voting efforts in Maryland

Check out the latest efforts of Out for Justice as it relates to ensuring that those currently and formerly incarcerated are afforded the same opporutnities as every other voter to both register to vote and request their mail-in ballots, recognized by the Washington Informer's William Ford.

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9/15/2020

Advocates push to expand the ballot to those behind the walls

Organizations such as Out for Justice, push the Board of Elections to produce an annual audit of the number of citizens incarcerated but still eligible to vote that they registered to vote or allowed to submit their ballot during an election.

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know your rights


F.A.Q.


You CAN VOTE if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, even if you are incarcerated;

You CAN VOTE if you are Behind the Walls awaiting trial for a charge and have not been convicted of a crime;

You CAN VOTE if you were convicted of a felony, if:
  • The felony conviction(s) are not for the crime of buying or selling votes; and
  • You are currently not serving time in a jail or detention center
  • Put simply...if you are HOME, you can VOTE
You can vote while on parole and probation, UNLESS you were convicted of buying or selling votes.

Read the Law: Md. Code, Election Law § 3-102
You CANNOT VOTE if:
  • you have ever been convicted of buying or selling votes; or
  • have been convicted of a felony and are currently serving a court–ordered sentence of imprisonment for the conviction; or
  • are under guardianship for mental disability AND the appropriate court has found by clear and convincing evidence that you cannot communicate, with or without accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting process;
If you are eligible to vote and you are looking to get registered to vote to participate in a future Election, you can register by:

1. Going to your local Board of Elections office and registering there, or requesting an application to return;
2. Going online to the Maryland Board of Elections website and filling out the information here;
3. Filling out a voter registration form at a mobile site where a certified registrar is registering people to vote;
4. Heading over to the Out for Justice office (1400 E. Federal Street) and getting registered there.

OFJ General Election Efforts


 

Number of People Engaged/Educated

5,972

 

Number of People Registered

1,241

 

Number of People Mobilized

769