Gov. Bob McDonnell said today that the civil rights of 6,874 Virginians have been restored during his tenure, 1,577 since July 15, when he began automatically restoring rights for nonviolent felons on an individual basis. “I strongly believe in second chances and redemption. It is a fundamental part of the American way,” McDonnell said in a statement. “Our efforts on prisoner re-entry and the restoration of rights are working. When an individual has done their time, and paid their fines, costs, and other obligations, they deserve the opportunity to rejoin our democracy in full.” McDonnell announced in May that beginning July 15 he would automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons on an individual basis.
The sweeping administrative action — while not an instantaneous blanket restoration — is as far as the governor can go within current Virginia law, administration officials said.
The change removed the application process for nonviolent felons. Once the administration verifies a nonviolent felon has paid his debt to society, the governor sends the individual a letter restoring his rights.