Maryland’s general assembly voted 29-18 in favor of restoring voting rights to 40,000 ex-prisoners on February 2, 2016. The colonial laws in Maryland previously only allowed ex-prisoners to vote after completing parole or probation.
The state’s governor, Larry Hogan vetoed the bill several times before assembly members were able to override him.
Larry Hogan made it known through social media that he is still opposed to the idea of ex-prisoners having the right to vote. He blamed the decision on “partisan” politics.
The issue was very much a partisan issue. Democrats were largely in favor of the bill, while republicans sided with the governor. Joanne Benson––an African democrat who serves in the Maryland senate––told the Baltimore Sun, “The whole system is unfair,” when referring to laws that deny ex-prisoners the right to vote.
Johnny Ray Salling, a republican senator told the Baltimore Sun, “somebody breaks the law, they lose their rights.”
The state of Maryland is now one of only three states, including Maine and Vermont, that allow ex-felons the right to vote without meeting parole or probation requirements. States like Florida, Iowa and Kentucky have lifetime voting bans on ex-prisoners.
The restoration of Maryland’s ex-prisoners voting rights came just in time for the 2016 elections as 40,000 ex-prisoners were expected to vote in this year’s Maryland’s state primary on April 21st.
There are also the upcoming Baltimore mayoral elections and U.S. presidential elections in November 2016.
The majority of these ex-prisoners that will be voting are African as the U.S. government imprisons African people at a much higher rate than white people and other groups.
Maryland’s democratic party is banking on these votes in order to secure power for themselves in the upcoming elections.
Electoral games will not liberate African people
The very idea that one has a voice in the country’s electoral process which can be given or taken away with the stroke of the pen is in an indicator that the electoral process is not the path to power.
We are being presented with the idea that the African men and women coming out of the country’s prison camps have a chance at using their vote to empower themselves.
The U.S. electoral process is for people who have real power and political representation. African people have no political representation in the U.S. electoral process. The “black vote” is used as a tool for the ruling class. African voters are only pawns in their power struggle.
The fact that giving voting rights to ex-prisoners automatically means freeing up tens of thousands of African votes shows that there is a system in place to keep African people oppressed and politically neutralized.
Democrats in Maryland have done the equivalent of Abraham Lincoln’s so-called emancipation of Africans during the U.S. civil war. Lincoln did not care about African people living in bondage, it was a strategic political move to disrupt the power structure of the south.
Giving voting rights to ex-prisoners in Maryland is a political move that is intended to disrupt republican’s plan for keeping political power in the state.
These African men and women who have served time in prison camps still have no control over the wealth and resources that are being stolen from them; nor do they control the political representation placed before them.
They are expected to automatically choose what they think will be the “lesser of two evils” and fall in line with the democratic party. There is no choice in the matter when it comes to U.S. electoral politics.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties represent the white ruling class. Both parties are responsible for the mass incarceration of African people. It was democratic president Bill Clinton who put most of these Africans in prison camps in the first place with the 1994 crime bill.
The only option for African people to end our oppression is to organize for Black Power and self-determination over our own lives. We must organize for reparations and independent political representation. These options do not require the approval of white power.
African people must join the African People’s Socialist Party. The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) has never denied membership or participation to African ex-prisoners. We have always focused on the freedom of all African people.
Join the APSP!
Black Power Matters!
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