Jan 10 / Erin Ferns Lee

Va. Governor Announces Support for Voting Rights Restoration

Gov. McDonnell announces his support for voting rights restoration of nonviolent felony offenders. Photo by VCU/CNS via Creative Commons license

Gov. McDonnell says he supports voting rights restoration of nonviolent felony offenders. Photo by VCU/CNS via Creative Commons license

Yesterday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that he supports legislation to automatically restore voting rights to people convicted of nonviolent felonies. Virginia currently imposes one of the nation’s strictest voting laws that requires hundreds of thousands of citizens to jump through hoops before regaining their civil rights.

“The governor alone can restore those rights and only after a cumbersome process that includes a two-year wait for nonviolent offenders or a five-year wait for violent offenders,” wrote Brenton Mock at Colorlines. “There are roughly 350,000 Virginians, most of then African Americans, disenfranchised due to this law.”

But with McDonnell’s support, this may soon change.

“As a nation that believes in redemption and second chances, we must provide a clear path for willing individuals to be productive members of society once they have served their sentences and paid their fines and restitution,” said McDonnell at his 2013 State of the Commonwealth speech yesterday. “It is time for Virginia to join most of the other states and make the restoration of civil rights an automatic process for non-violent offenders.”

Proposals to amend the state constitution to provide the restoration of voting rights include SJ 266, HJ 535, HJ 585, HJ 563, HJ 664, HJ 603.

Sign up to monitor these election bills and similar proposals here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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