Due to the weather, some customers may experience late delivery of The Roanoke Times. We apologize for the delay.
Nearly 7,000 have had rights restored by Bob McDonnell, the most by any Virginia governor.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
RICHMOND — Gov. Bob McDonnell said Thursday that the civil rights of 6,874 Virginians have been restored during his tenure, including 1,577 since July 15, when he began automatically restoring rights for nonviolent felons on an individual basis.
The announcement capped a frenzy of activity by administration officials in recent weeks to restore rights to as many nonviolent felons as possible before last Tuesday’s deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 5 elections.
“I strongly believe in second chances and redemption. It is a fundamental part of the American way,” McDonnell said in a statement, touting the restoration numbers — more than any previous Virginia governor.
It also comes as lawyers for the Democratic Party of Virginia head to federal court in Alexandria today to seek an injunction to prevent the state board of elections and local registrars from purging nearly 58,000 names from the rolls.
The Democratic Party contends the list upon which the elections board is relying is riddled with errors that could result in eligible voters being stricken from voting lists, along with those whose registration status is inactive or duplicated in another state.
To date, the elections board has purged 38,870 voters from Virginia rolls, while keeping 11,138 and classifying an additional 7,285 as inactive.
The Democratic Party, which also names McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in its lawsuit, seeks to restore the purged voters. The elections board, represented by Cuccinelli’s office, says the review of the list was done appropriately and accurately.
McDonnell announced in May that beginning July 15 he would automatically restore the rights of nonviolent felons on an individual basis.
The sweeping administrative action — while not an instantaneous blanket restoration — is as far as the governor can go within current Virginia law, administration officials said.
The change removed the application process for nonviolent felons. Once the administration verifies a nonviolent felon has paid his debt to society, the governor sends the individual a letter restoring his rights.
McDonnell restored the rights of 1,114 felons in 2010; 1,293 in 2011 and 1,879 in 2012.
There are still about 350,000 disenfranchised people in the state who have completed their sentences, according to The Sentencing Project’s 2012 report, which used 2010 numbers.
“While the outreach work of the past three months is paying off, we hope the administration will seek ways to further streamline the process to quickly approve more of the individuals who are still waiting to have their rights restored,’ said Advancement Project co-director Judith Browne Dianis, who praised McDonnell’s “commitment” to the issue.
McDonnell said he will seek additional funding for the restoration effort in the new biennial budget he presents to lawmakers in December, with a view toward focusing resources on the category of nonviolent felons who paid their debt to society years ago, but for whom official information is scant, making them hard to locate and identify.
Weather JournalIcy mix moves in this Sunday AM