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Maryland Senate overrides governor veto on felon voting rights

[JURIST] The Maryland Senate [official website] on Tuesday overrode a veto by Governor Larry Hogan [official website] to pass bill [materials] that will allow felons to vote before they complete parole or probation. Sixty percent of the Democrat-dominated Senate voted in favor of overriding the veto, which is the exact amount required to do so. The bill will now become law in 30 days and will affect [WP report] approximately 40,000 people currently on probation or parole. Hogan put significant effort into quashing the override effort, arguing that parole and probation are part of a prisoner's punishment, and voting rights should not be returned to those people until they complete these programs. However, supporters of the bill believe that allowing ex-convicts to vote will speed up their assimilation back into everyday society and improve their rehabilitation.

Voting rights remain a controversial legal issue in the US. Last month a judge for the US District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina declined to grant [JURIST report] a motion by the NAACP and other plaintiffs that would have kept the state from implementing their voter identification law in the upcoming March elections. In September a North Carolina Superior Court judge refused to dismiss [JURIST report] a case challenging the state's new voter ID requirement. In March the US Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in challenges to Wisconsin's voter ID law. Wisconsin's Act 23, which requires residents to present photo ID to vote, was struck down by a federal district court but reinstated [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Also in March Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration. A federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a Kansas rule that required prospective voters to show proof-of-citizenship documents before registering using a federal voter registration form in November 2014.

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