Gov. Bob McDonnell expressed his disappointment Monday after a Senate measure to restore voting rights to non-violent convicted felons met its end in a House of Delegates subcommittee. McDonnell announced his support for the legislation in his State of the Commonwealth Address Jan. 11. Under current law convicted felons who have served their full sentences must appeal to the governor to have their voting rights restored. McDonnell has restored the rights of more convicted felons using the process than any of his predecessors. “It is disappointing that the General Assembly was not able to enact this common sense reform to restore the fundamental rights to vote and serve on juries to these citizens who have atoned for their earlier mistakes,” McDonnell said in a press release. “
Allowing the General Assembly to set the rules for the automatic restoration of rights for non-violent felons is smart government because it would provide uniformity across gubernatorial administrations and be a more efficient process. In addition, quickly and uniformly restoring the rights of non-violent offenders will also help to reduce crime and ensure fewer future victims. It is the right thing to do.
“While our administration has enacted the fastest and fairest restoration process in the history of the Commonwealth, it is still a burdensome process. We have made significant progress on this issue, responding to all completed applications for restoration of rights within 60 days during my tenure, and restoring the rights of more Virginians than any other administration. This session we witnessed another breakthrough in our efforts when the full Virginia State Senate voted to approve an automatic restoration of rights process. That was a first for Virginia. And it is a clear sign that we are making progress, and we will get this policy change made in the years ahead. I will continue advocating for an automatic restoration of rights process for non-violent felons. It is past time that Virginia enacted this policy. I believe strongly in second chances, redemption and opportunity. And I will remain committed to using our efficient, fair and expeditious restoration process to its fullest extent in order to restore as many rights as possible to our fellow Virginians who have served their time, paid their dues and deserve to fully rejoin our democracy.”