Norment introduces amendment to automatically restore non-violen - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Norment introduces amendment to automatically restore non-violent felons' voting rights in VA

VA Senator Thomas Norment VA Senator Thomas Norment
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Republican Senator and Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. has introduced an amendment that would automatically restore rights to non-violent felons. However, those convicted of violent felonies "would not be qualified to vote."

"There is only one right way to automatically restore the vote to those convicted of non-violent felonies who have completed their sentences and paid their fines and restitution," Senator Norment said. "That right way requires an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia, approved by the General Assembly and the people of Virginia."

Norment says the amendment would give non-violent felons a second chance. He also proposed removing the governor from the rights restoration process.

"To ensure the unnecessary drama that ensued after Governor McAuliffe issued his unconstitutional rights restoration order on April 22 does not repeat itself, this amendment would remove the executive from the rights restoration process," said Norment.

Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement Thursday in response to the proposed constitutional amendment:

"This cynical proposal unmasks Republican leaders’ true motive, which is to permanently disenfranchise men and women and condemn them to a lifetime as outcasts from our Commonwealth. While no one condones violent felonies, enlightened societies believe that all men and women are capable of redemption. As such, we remain committed to giving them a path to full citizenship in our Commonwealth. Senator Norment’s proposal would enshrine in our Constitution Virginia’s status as an outlier among the American states. Senator Norment proposes to make Virginia one of the most restrictive states in America in depriving its own citizens of any and all means to restore their civil rights.

"Senator Norment attempts to disguise this goal by couching his proposal as a means to ease restrictions against those who have committed nonviolent felonies, but the details of his plan expose that claim as a deliberate falsehood. In truth, this proposal is a step backward for those convicted of nonviolent felonies as well. His proposal would reinstate a burdensome requirement that individuals fully pay their court costs as a condition for the restoration of rights. This is an unfair demand that my administration eliminated as a modern-day poll tax on our citizens. We will not accept a punitive tax as a barrier to voting for the poorest Virginians. In addition, Senator Norment’s proposal would even restore a policy rejected by Governor Bob McDonnell requiring individuals to complete suspended sentences without supervision before their rights are restored. 

"We will strongly oppose any new civil rights barriers that would move Virginia backwards and make our Commonwealth a national embarrassment. Senator Norment’s proposal is an affront to the ideals established by Virginian Thomas Jefferson 240 years ago."

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