The legislation had the support of lots of liberals and two top law and order conservatives — Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. It was a bill to move toward allowing non-violent felons who have served all their time to have their voting rights automatically restored. Being able to vote, McDonnell and Cuccinelli reasoned, helps those felons become full members of society. A Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, to move toward a constitutional amendment on the issue carried by a 30-10 vote on Jan. 28. But a subcommittee in the House of Delegates then soundly killed it off. That is, on a voice vote, the seven members of the Constitutional Amendment Subcommittee, part of the House Committee on Privileges and Elections, recommended “no action.” The same subcommittee had previously defeated a separate House version of the bill by a 6-1 margin. That means Virginia will maintain its national leadership spot in stripping its citizens of the right to vote.
More than 451,000 people can’t vote in Virginia on account of being a convicted felon. That’s 7.3 percent of the state’s voting age population of 6.14 million — one of the highest rates in the country.
According to a report from the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group that pushes for voter restoration, Virginia trails only four states — Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Kentucky — in the proportion of people disenfranchised.
One in five black Virginians can’t walk into a voting booth and cast a ballot on account of being a convicted felon, with Virginia having stripped 242,958 black people of the right to vote.
Full Article: Felons’ voting rights bill defeated – dailypress.com.