NBC12 VIEWPOINT: Felons and the Right to Vote

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - By: Kym Grinnage email

Crime, punishment, redemption and the right to vote.  As many of you know, in the state of Virginia if one has been convicted of a felony, served their time and now wants to vote, that individual, after a 3-5 year waiting period, must petition the state to have their voting rights restored.

There are other states that follow similar procedures, but there are also states that recognize that once a felon has paid their debt to society, their voting rights are restored in short order.

Now, of course, there are many points of view on this matter and the voices are very vocal on both sides, but I believe that when all is said and done, this comes down to a citizen's rights. I would think that society would eagerly encourage a former felon, who wants to vote and become a productive member of society, to do just that as soon as possible. I struggle to understand what possible harm can be done if we allow former felons to exercise this right.

Kemba Smith Pradia, who had her 25 year prison sentenced commuted by President Clinton, has been very vocal on this issue. Because of the weight of this issue, she received a formal hearing before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. She couldn't vote in Virginia, but when she moved to Indiana, she was able to vote after filing out a simple voter registration application at the DMV.

Sometimes in trying to understand why archaic laws are still applied to modern society, we need to make it personal. If your mom had been convicted of a felony, served her time, and wanted to vote in the upcoming November election, but could not because she lives in the state of Virginia, I wonder how that would make her feel.

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