Can a Felon Vote in Virginia?

Virginia was originally established as an English settlement in 1607. It adopted its first constitution and declared independence in 1776. In 1778 it became the tenth state in the US.

According to the “Prisoners in 2015” report by the US Department of Justice, there are 38,403 prisoners in Virginia under the jurisdiction of state correctional authorities. Of these, 35,167 were male.

Voting is a basic responsibility that every citizen living in a democracy must exercise. It provides them with the opportunity to express their political opinions and choose the candidate who will implement policies that have their best interests in mind.

Can Felons Vote in Virginia?

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced in April 2014 that released felons convicted of non-violent crimes would automatically have their voters’ rights restored. This was extended in 2016 to all felons regardless of their charge.

However, the Supreme Court struck down governor’s blanket restoration in July. This affected some 13,000 felons who had already registered to vote, and who were once again prohibited from exercising their rights.

This prompted Gov. McAuliffe to issue a press release saying he would sign individual orders to restore the voters’ rights of qualified felons. He intends to eventually restore the rights of some 200,000 felons.

Prior to the governor’s move to restore voters’ rights to felons, Virginia was known for having some of the harshest laws regarding voting bans. Felons suffered a lifetime ban, although their rights could be restored on an individual basis.

How Felons Can Restore Voters’ Rights

Released felons who qualify to have their rights restored do not have to do anything since the governor’s office will identify those who meet their standards. Once their rights are restored, they will be mailed a personalized order.

However, it may expedite the process if you get in touch with the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. You can request the restoration of your rights by clicking on the link.

Felons who have had their rights restored by the governor’s actions between April 22 and July 22, 2016 have had them revoked by the Supreme Court decision. However, the governor is committed to restoring those rights again.

The review process takes around two to three weeks to complete. Once your rights have been restored, you will have to register again to vote, either online or through the local registrar’s office.

Sources

https://commonwealth.virginia.gov/judicial-system/restoration-of-rights/

https://www.virginia.gov/services/register-to-vote/

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