Voting Rights Advocates Announce Groundbreaking Legislation Expanding Ballot Access for Those ‘Behind The Walls’
- Joanne Antoine (443) 906-0442 Jantoine@commoncause.org
Bill seeks to expand on the 2020 efforts that sent voting materials to all eligible voters incarcerated in detention facilities and jails across the state.
Baltimore, Maryland – On Wednesday, February 03, 2021, at 09:30 a.m. members of the Expand the Ballot, Expand the Vote coalition will host a press conference to announce legislation introduced in Annapolis that seeks to enhance the opportunity for those ‘Behind the Walls’ to have access to the ballot in future elections.
SB224/HB222 seeks to enhance the voter awareness and mobilization efforts of eligible voters who are currently incarcerated, and those who were recently released, by providing for a mandated informational packet to be sent to eligible voters incarcerated during an election year while providing for those being released with a voter registration application and information detailing their right to vote upon release.
“What we have witnessed for decades is the fact that those convicted of a misdemeanor but currently incarcerated awaiting trial or serving time for that conviction, who are eligible to vote but not given the proper resources or information in order for them to exercise their right to vote behind bars,” says Nicole Hanson-Mundell, the Executive Director for Out for Justice.
Last year, members of the Expand the Ballot Coalition worked with the state board of elections in providing voting materials that were sent to every local detention center and jail across the state, informing those behind the walls of their voting eligibility, and providing them with the necessary application for voter registration or absentee balloting. “What we found last year was hundreds of eligible voters who were unaware of their constitutional right to vote, who were eager to have their voices heard in our Presidential Election,” says Hanson-Mundell.
The group looks to ensure that last year’s exercise becomes law this year, by mandating that the state and local board of elections provide this much-needed information to the men and women incarcerated in every election moving forward. This bipartisan legislation, which sponsored by Republican Senator Christopher West and Democratic Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins, would also provide those released from incarceration the information they need to better understand their right to vote regardless of the severity of their conviction, given that Maryland state law now enables anyone not incarcerated the right to register and vote upon release from incarceration
WHAT: Press Conference to SB224/HB222 – the Value My Vote Act of 2021.
WHEN: Wednesday, February 03, ~ 09:30 a.m.
WHERE: Zoom – email for link
WHO: Members of the Expand the Vote Coalition:
Senator Chris West (Baltimore County – D42)
Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins (Montgomery County – D20)
Aisha Braveboy, State Attorney for Prince George’s County
Nicole Hanson Mundell, Executive Director, Out for Justice Inc.
Qiana Johnson, Founder, Life After Release
Monica Cooper, Executive Director, Maryland Justice Project
Joanne Antonie Executive Director, Common Cause Maryland
Christopher Dews, Policy Advocate, Job Opportunities Task Force
Kobi Little, President, Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP
Mckayla Wilkes, Executive Director of Schools not Jails
Nancy Soreng, League of Women Voters
Caylin Young, Policy Director, ACLU Maryland
For more information on the #ValueMyVote efforts, please go to www.valuemyvote.today