Until a few years ago, Virginia disenfranchised anyone with a past felony conviction for life. The policy was recently loosened so citizens could apply to have their rights restored, but the process was often lengthy, cumbersome, and limited to individuals convicted of certain crimes.
Today’s action will allow eligible citizens who have completed their term of incarceration and supervised release (including probation or parole) to immediately register to vote, and moving forward persons who satisfy those criteria will be eligible for rights restoration on a monthly basis. Virginia will join 19 other states that restore voting rights to citizens upon completion of incarceration, probation, and parole.
“Today is a landmark day for Virginia,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Democracy Program at Brennan Center for Justice. “Just a few years ago, Virginia permanently disenfranchised otherwise eligible citizens of their right to vote. With Governor McAuliffe’s action, hundreds of thousands of new voters can make their voices heard.”
“People have served their time and done their probation,” McAuliffe said. “I want you back in society. I want you feeling good about yourself. I want you voting, getting a job, paying taxes.”
Restoring voting rights has seen bipartisan support throughout the years, with more than 20 states easing their laws over the last two decades. Most recently, Maryland enacted a law to restore voting rights to 40,000 citizens with past convictions.
Link to original Brennan Center for Justice article