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Sunday, June 16, 2013
The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County Virginia appreciates the steps Gov. Bob McDonnell has taken to restore the right to vote to Virginians once jailed for nonviolent felonies. During the past decade, league members throughout Virginia met to review the process felons must follow to regain their civil rights. We found it was not predictable, consistent or fair.
McDonnell has restored civil rights to more than 5,000 individuals, one by one, as required under the Virginia Constitution. However, ProCon.org estimates that there are more than 350,000 disenfranchised individuals in Virginia, about 7.34 percent of the voting age population. We note that 40 states restore voting rights automatically when incarceration ends.
While we believe that all felons who have completed their prison terms should have their rights restored automatically, McDonnell has taken the necessary first step to redress the injustice shown to the many thousands of Virginians who cannot vote.
The LWVMCVA believes that additional staff, data collection, public education and other steps will be needed to successfully implement the process McDonnell has adopted, and hope that funding will be included in the budget proposed to the next session of the General Assembly.
ELAINE HEAD AND JUDITH SNOKE
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