Many federal lawmakers are echoing Attorney General Eric Holder’s call to restore voting rights to felons in Virginia. In a couple states felons can vote while in prison. In many right after they leave the gates their voting rights are restored. Not in Virginia. The commonwealth is one of just a handful of states that doesn’t restore voting rights upon being released from prison or completing probation or parole, which Attorney General Holder says is unjust. “I call upon state leaders and other elected officials across this country to pass clear and consistent reforms to restore the voting rights of all who have served their terms in prison or jail, completed their parole or probation and paid their fines.” Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine remembers fighting to change Virginia’s law while in Richmond. “As governor, I, Mark Warner first and then me and then Bob McDonnell, we really tried to dramatically escalate the re-enfranchisement of folks, because I think we’ve all come to the realization that the sort of automatic disenfranchisement for a felony…is a bad rule.”
There’s only so much a governor can do though, because Virginia’s Constitution prohibits felons from getting back into voting booths, though a new policy allows non-violent offenders to vote upon being released from prison. Virginia Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott is on the Judiciary Committee.
“There are hundreds of thousands of African Americans, particularly African American men, who get in trouble early on and people in their 40’s and 50’s that had a problem 20 and 30 years still can’t vote unless the governor individually restores the right to vote.”
Full Article: Felon Voting Rights Still a Work In Progress | WVTF.