Expand the Ballot Coalition Details Plans to Ensure Eligible Incarcerated Voters Can Exercise Their Right to Vote

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A coalition of Maryland voting rights organizations today released a letter confirming details of a program to ensure eligible voters in corrections facilities are not denied their right to vote.

Thousands of Marylanders are eligible to vote but are currently incarcerated. This includes people who are waiting for trials and those serving time for misdemeanors, rather than felonies.

The Expand the Ballot Coalition’s letter to the State Board of Elections details: actions the Board has already agreed to implement; assistance the nonprofit organizations will provide; additional steps the Board should take; and a recommended timeline for implementation.

“Each election cycle, countless voters are excluded from participating in the electoral process as a result of their pretrial detention and misdemeanor status. They are prevented from accessing voter registration forms, mail-in request forms, the ballot, and critical information on voting,” the letter says.

“For the first time, the State Board of Elections (SBE) has agreed to work with advocates to provide eligible incarcerated voters in local correctional facilities with access to these materials for the general election.”

Read the full letter here.

“The right to participate in our government by voting is enshrined in our Constitution,” said Common Cause Maryland Policy Manager Tierra Bradford. “The State Board of Elections needs to make sure that everyone who has that right is able to exercise it – even if they’re currently incarcerated.”  

“The act of voting is the foundation of our form of government,” Bradford said. “A government ‘by the people’ needs to include all of the people who are eligible to vote, even people awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense.”

Today’s letter to the State Board of Elections was signed by: Out for Justice, Common Cause Maryland, ACLU Maryland, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Life After Release, Job Opportunities Task Force, Maryland Justice Project and Campaign Legal Center.

The Expand the Ballot Coalition will hold an online press conference at 9am on Monday, September 14. Email liacobucci@commoncause.org for Zoom registration link. Speakers will include representatives of the sponsoring organizations as well as personal stories from formerly and currently incarcerated voters.