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Virginia NAACP Statement Following Initial Hearing in Lawsuit to Obtain Public Records on Governor’s Discriminatory Restoration of Rights Process

"It is outrageous that Governor Youngkin continues to fight tooth and nail to withhold key information about this process"

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From the Virginia NAACP:

Virginia NAACP Statement Following Initial Hearing in Lawsuit to Obtain Public Records on Governor’s Discriminatory Restoration of Rights Process

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia State Conference NAACP (Virginia NAACP) released the following statement from Rev. Cozy Bailey, President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, following today’s initial hearing in Virginia State Conference NAACP, et. al., v. Governor Glenn A. Younkin, et. al., its ongoing lawsuit under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) to obtain public records regarding Governor Youngkin’s discriminatory process for restoring voting rights to Virginia citizens with past felony convictions:

“Virginia’s returning citizens, and all Virginians, deserve to know the truth about Governor Youngkin’s rights restoration process, and why he has restored voting rights to only a fraction of those eligible. Virginia NAACP has worked tirelessly over the past seven months to obtain public records—records which it is entitled to under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (“VFOIA”)—in order to shine a light on this process, which has a discriminatory impact on Black Virginians and other Virginians of color. It is outrageous that Governor Youngkin continues to fight tooth and nail to withhold key information about this process—including even what information he considers when determining whether to restore an individual’s sacred right to vote.

We are disappointed in Judge Marchant’s limited ruling today that the Governor’s restoration of rights database is exempt from production under VFOIA, even in partially redacted form removing applicants’ personal identifying information. This database contains key information, including the information collected about each applicant that informs the rights restoration decision. Moreover, the evidence presented today shows that this database is also used for other purposes—such as communications with applicants and other state agencies—and therefore is disseminated outside the Governor’s Office, making at least these portions of the database subject to public disclosure under VFOIA.

We will continue to fight to vindicate our right to review these public records, and again call on Governor Youngkin to make public the complete criteria he uses to determine whether to restore an individual’s right to vote, and to commit to a process that fairly and promptly restores the rights of all eligible returning citizens.”

The Virginia NAACP is represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Hogan Lovells US LLP. A copy of Virginia NAACP’s initial VFOIA request letter, VFOIA lawsuit court filings, and all of the documents thus far produced can be found at: naacpva.us/FOIA-RestorationOfRights

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ABOUT THE VIRGINIA NAACP

Founded in 1935, the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth, overseeing over 100 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. The Virginia NAACP is the preeminent voice of Black Virginians and advocates for policies and programs to benefit Blacks and people of color. You can read more about the Virginia NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting NAACPVA.org.

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