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VA Gov. Pledges Faster Felon Voting Rights

By Kamika Dunlap on May 24, 2010 10:50 AM

In Virginia, nonviolent felons may have their right to vote restored within 60 days and Gov. Robert McDonnell has pledged to make it happen. 

The rights-restoration process would be eons faster than the two or three year long wait it typically takes for nonviolent felons to have their civil rights restored, the Washington Post reports.

Governor Robert McDonnell recently announced a much fairer and faster way for felons to have their rights restored. He outlined ways to get courts and probation officers to submit the necessary documents more quickly. In addition, he pledged that his office would act on applications within 60 days of getting the necessary paperwork.

As previously discussed, In 39 states, prisoners and those on parole are stripped of their voting rights, but they are automatically returned to felons who have completed their sentences.

Currently, Kentucky and Virginia are the only states that permanently take away the right to vote from people convicted of felonies and leave restoration entirely at the discretion of the governor.

Virginia's policy requires that nonviolent felons write a "brief description of civic or community involvement" as a way to boost their chances of success. Deciding to leave the question blank will not necessarily result in an automatic rejection.

Virginia has approximately 300,000 felons.

As previously discussed, a recent report cites how targeted criminalization, along with the disenfranchisement of those convicted of felonies has stripped many African Americans and other ethnic minorities of their voting rights.

American Civil Liberties Union officials say they are pleased that Governor McDonnell has endorsed the idea that voting rights can help felons reintegrate into society.


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