Gov. McAuliffe restores voting rights to 13,000 felons

Gov. McAuliffe to restore voting rights to 13,000 felons Monday

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Monday he has restored the right to vote to 13,000 Virginians with felony convictions.

The governor tried to immediately restore the voting rights to 200,000 felons earlier this year, but the measure was met with resistance from many Republican leaders who said he was overstepping his authority with a blanket restoration to so many felons. The state supreme court agreed in July, leaving the governor with the option of restoring voting rights on a case by case basis.

Gov. McAuliffe said Monday he has signed each of the requests individually from the 13,000 felons who registered to restore their right to vote since April 22.

"I believe in the power of second chances, and in the dignity and word of every human being," said Gov. McAuliffe. "I am done wasting time arguing about the old Virginia way – we've got a new Virginia way now."

Opponents argued the original plan was favorable for both violent and nonviolent offenders, and it would have made room for hundreds of thousands of voters in the upcoming presidential election who may have voted for Democrats.

"We are also committed to holding the governor accountable on the merits of his policy," said House Speaker Bill Howell. "Undoubtedly, the governor has restored the rights of some deserving citizens. But, there is also no doubt that he has restored the rights of some odious criminals. The people of full Virginia deserve a full explanation of the policy, specifically why he is restoring rights to habitual offenders, those who have not yet paid back their victims, and the Commonwealth's worst sex offenders."

For the thousands of others whose rights have not yet been restored, Gov. McAuliffe said his administration will review each case and restore eligible citizens going forward. In order to be eligible, the felons must have finished any term of supervision and any term of supervised release (including supervised probation or parole). Gov. McAuliffe says he will review each application and, as appropriate, send by mail a personalized restoration order and voter registration application.

The names of individuals whose rights have been restored will be released on the 15th of each month, the governor said. A special website has been setup for those looking to apply or seeking more information: http://bit.ly/1lBLlEv

Speaker Howell said the General Assembly will review the process to determine if he followed the legal requirements.

The governor's office released this procedure for rights restoration on Monday;

  • Secretary of the Commonwealth (SOC) is giving priority consideration to individuals who request restoration of their civil rights.  Those wishing to expedite restoration of their own rights may contact the SOC through the website www.commonwealth.virginia.gov/ror.
  • In addition, the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office has identified individuals who may meet the Governor’s standards for restoration: individuals who have been convicted of a felony and are no longer incarcerated or under active supervision by the Department of Corrections (DOC) or other state agency.
  • Prioritizing by date since release from supervision and starting with those who have been released from supervision the longest, SOC will conduct a thorough review of each of these individuals, checking their records with Virginia State Police, DOC, State Compensation Board, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Criminal Justice Service, and Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to ensure the individual meets the Governor’s standards for restoration of rights.
  • In addition to confirming completion of incarceration and supervised release, the SOC considers factors such as active warrants, pre-trial hold, and other concerns that may be flagged by law enforcement.  Individuals in these circumstances or any with concerns about the accuracy of information analyzed from law enforcement will be held from our streamlined consideration process for further review.
  • Upon completion of its review, SOC will make recommendations to the Governor to restore the rights of individuals who have been determined to meet his standards.
  • The Governor will review SOC’s analysis of each individual’s record and will make the final decision on proposed candidates for restoration of rights.
  • Upon the Governor’s approval, SOC will issue and mail personalized restoration orders.
  • SOC will release the names of newly restored individuals monthly. The list will be made available by request. The full list will also be included in Senate Document 2 (SD2) as it has been historically.?

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