Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland vetoed a bill Friday that would have restored voting rights to around 40,000 former felons.
In letters to legislative leaders, Hogan, a Republican, said earlier legislation that lets ex-felons vote once they’ve completed parole and probation “achieves the proper balance between the repayment of obligations to society for a felony conviction and the restoration of the various restricted rights.”
That legislation is currently in effect in the state. The Democratic-backed bill would have allowed ex-felons to vote upon getting out of prison.
The the timing of the move, on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, suggested it was designed to attract little attention.
Currently, over 63,000 Marylanders are disenfranchised because of past felonies, according to numbers compiled by The Sentencing Project. Around 65% of them are African-American.
Hogan’s veto comes after a month in which the death in police custody of an unarmed black man in Baltimore prompted widespread rioting in the city and an urgent local and national conversation about race and criminal justice.
A host of other states, including Virginia, Minnesota, and Kentucky, have lately seen efforts to make it easier for former felons to vote.