Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has decided to take on the restoration of felon voting rights in his final year in office, pushing lawmakers in Richmond to take on the issue in Wednesday’s State of the Commonwealth address. “As a nation that believes in redemption and second chances, we must provide a clear path for willing individuals to be productive members of society once they have served their sentences and paid their fines and restitution,” he said. “It is time for Virginia to join most of the other states and make the restoration of civil rights an automatic process for non-violent offenders.”
Under current law, Virginia is one of four states that imposes significant burdens on felons wishing to regain civil rights, such as the right to vote. Currently felons must apply directly to the governor and have met certain qualifications. According to McDonnell’s office, he has restored rights to 4,423 felons, ostensibly a higher rate than any of his predecessors, but a recent study found that more than 350,000 former felons in Virginia still do not have voting rights.
Two Republican-backed bills have been filed for the coming legislative session that would give felons another path. One provides a new option only for nonviolent felons, while the other would make civil right restoration automatic for all felons upon completion of a full sentence and any payment of fines or costs.
Full Article: Gov. McDonnell pushes to restore felon voting rights — MSNBC.