Denying voting rights to people who have served their prison sentences was an outdated, discriminatory vestige of our nation’s Jim Crow past. Yet a measure recently introduced in Virginia’s legislature would make it harder for this group to vote. A constitutional amendment proposed by Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) would perpetuate our racist past into the commonwealth’s future. Norment’s amendment would make Virginia’s archaic voting ban more restrictive than the Jim Crow constitution Virginia adopted in 1902. While the amendment appears to call for the restoration of rights of certain people, it would create significant hurdles for some and institute an irreversible lifetime ban for others. The measure also could open the door to punishing even low-level offenses by imposing a lifetime status as a second-class citizen for thousands of Virginians. The result would be that people with past felony convictions would have no say in elections for decades after they’ve paid their debt to society.
This proposal is troubling in its own right. Even more worrying is that this appears to be a part of a concerted effort by partisan officials to manipulate the right to vote for their own gain, predominantly hurting Virginians of color, the poor and the elderly.
Norment’s proposed amendment is widely viewed as a politicized response to the ongoing fight in Virginia over the restoration of civil rights for people with past felony convictions. On April 22, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed an executive order restoring the rights of more than 206,000 people who had served time and completed any supervised release, such as probation or parole.
Full Article: A backward march on voting rights – The Washington Post.