I believe that if a person has served the time their rights should be fully restored to vote, serve on a jury, become a notary and run for public office. As a stakeholder for the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office on restoration of rights, it saddens me that persons who have been released from incarceration are being re-incarcerated by the community. Jim Herring is a radio announcer and a member of the Henrico Republican committee and had this to say about restoration of rights for ex-offenders….actually, it’s a pretty interesting conversation. Play audio here.
The Supreme Court of Virginia heard republican lawmakers arguments on Governor Terry McAuliffe’s restoration of rights grant order. Attorney Charles Cooper, representing the GOP, argued for 30-minutes before several justices that the governor’s executive order was an abuse of power. They contend that felons rights should have been restored on a case-by-case basis and not a blanket act. Republicans suing the governor argued that the executive order is unconstitutional. On the other side, Attorney Stuart Raphael, representing the governor, argued that there is no specific language in the constitution that requires the governor to restore rights in any particular way.
The justices have heard from both sides of the restoration of rights argument. Local community organizations, in support of the governor’s executive order, hope the justices will make a decision by the end of August. The organizations want to make sure that persons eligible to vote by absentee can do so starting September 24. Also, those who are eligible can register to vote by the deadline of October 17 for the General Election in November.
So far, 11,000 felons have registered to vote following Governor McAuliffe’s executive order three months ago. If you were convicted of a felony in Virginia and your rights were restored on April 22, 2016, check your status here.