Baltimore, MD – Former felons and supporters gathered at the Baltimore City Board of Elections March 10 to celebrate the first day of voter registration for people on probation and parole with many of the attendees registering to vote. More than 40,000 Marylanders are newly eligible to vote today, with more than half of those potential new voters living in Baltimore City.

“No more taxation without representation,” said Perry Hopkins, an organizer with Communities United, a grassroots organization that led the campaign to restore the franchise to former felons. “Over the next couple of months, we are going to register and turn out ex-offenders to vote. This is the beginning of a new movement to build our collective voice and impact. People need to know – if you’re out of prison, you can vote,”

“I have been disenfranchised for so long,” said Greg Carpenter, a newly enfranchised voter who registered today. “I have been out of prison for 21 years, and have always wanted to vote but felt that all I could be was silent. This is a sweet and liberating moment.”

Last year, the Maryland General Assembly resoundingly passed SB340/HB980 to restore the vote to citizens who live in our communities but could not vote because of a criminal conviction in their past. It was vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan but his veto was overridden by the General Assembly on February 9, 2016.

The voter registration deadline for the April 26 local and federal primary election is just a few weeks away, on April 5. Thursday’s event launches a citywide voter registration drive of newly enfranchised, ex-offender voters to promote widespread ex-offender participation in this year’s elections. This voter registration drive is a collaborative effort of Communities United, the Baltimore City Branch of NAACP, the Baltimore City League of Women Voters, the No Boundaries Coalition, Out for Justice, Forward Baltimore, and others.