이전, the state’s policy required former felons to finish serving “active supervision,” including probation or parole, before they were eligible to have their rights restored by the governor. Northam’s move means Virginians who have been released from prison but still remain on probation or parole now are eligible to vote.
Per prepared remarks, Northam will say it’s unfair to deprive former felons of their rights once they have served their time.
“Probationary periods can last for years. But that’s also time in which a person is living in the community, rebuilding their lives,” he will say. “They should be able to exercise those civil rights, even if they are still under supervision.”
“Letting these folks vote or exercise other civil rights isn’t a threat to public safety,” he will say. “We’re a Commonwealth that believes in second chances. And we believe in forgiveness. We want people to move forward — not be tied down by the mistakes of their past.”
State officials, in anticipation of the announcement, reviewed Department of Corrections records to identify the former felons who meet the new criteria, and Northam will restore the rights of 69,045 people Tuesday, said Kelly Thomasson, Virginia’s secretary of the commonwealth.
“We’re making a kind of a technical change that has a big impact,” Thomasson told CNN in an interview Tuesday morning. “You don’t deserve to permanently have these rights stripped away because of a mistake you made. It’s about treating people equally and fairly.”
Thomasson did not have demographic data for the more than 69,000 Virginians whose rights were being restored Tuesday.
전국적으로, 거의 5.2 million Americans cannot vote because of a felony conviction, according to The Sentencing Project. The barrier particularly affects African Americans: One out of 16 Black people of voting age are barred from the ballot box because of felony disenfranchisement laws, nearly four times the rate of non-Black Americans, the group’s data show.
Northam’s actions are the latest in a series in Virginia to expand the franchise. With Tuesday’s announcement, Northam said he has restored voting rights for more than 111,000 people during his time in office. The governor is term limited and is not on the ballot in Virginia this fall.
, former Gov
. Terry McAuliffe
, has counted his push to individual restore voting rights to more than
156,000 Virginians among his
” as governor
, 민주당 원, is seeking to reclaim the governorship in this year’s election
The state’s General Assembly this year took the first step toward changing the state’s Constitution to make the restoration of voting rights automatic as soon as felons complete their prison terms
. The measure now must go to a newly elected state legislature next year and win voter approval in a referendum before it becomes permanent
Thomasson said it’s hard to predict how many other Virginians will be affected by the change announced Tuesday but said she expected the governor to restore voting rights on a rolling basis as more people complete their prison terms or reach out to state officials
Virginia is one of a handful of states that still require a governor to act to restore voting rights
. 에 18 주, felons received automatic restoration of voting rights as soon as they are released from prison
, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
In Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., felons never lose their voting rights, even when they are behind bars.