Virginia: Advocates: Court-imposed debt an obstacle for some felons seeking to restore voting rights | Washington Post

Advocates for restoring the voting rights of Virginia felons are praising the steps Gov. Bob McDonnell has taken to streamline the process but say a major impediment remains: insurmountable fines and court costs. McDonnell’s administration has restored the voting rights of more than 6,800 Virginians, more than any previous administration. In July, he announced a new procedure that eliminated a two-year waiting period and made restoration almost automatic for nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences and probation and paid all court-imposed debt. But for disenfranchised Virginians like Clyde Mowyer of Colonial Heights, the financial hurdle means his chance of regaining the right to vote is no greater now than it was before McDonnell reformed the process. Mowyer, who was convicted of credit card theft and multiple driving violations, estimated that he owes nearly $20,000 to multiple jurisdictions — a debt he will never be able to repay on his monthly disability income of $639. “After paying for utilities and a place to stay, I have $59 left to live on,” Mowyer said. “There’s no possible way I can pay anything. I appreciate what the governor did in trying to make an automatic restoration process, but it doesn’t help people that are disabled.”

Full Article: Advocates: Court-imposed debt an obstacle for some Va. felons seeking to restore voting rights

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