Tag: Ex-felons voting rights
Governor Bob McDonnell today announced his Administration's streamlined restoration of rights procedures. Highlighted by a 60-day turnaround period on all completed applications, compared to the previous standard of six months to one year or more, the process will be the fastest and fairest in recent Virginia history. The Governor also announced that he is shortening the time individuals convicted of non-violent felonies must wait before applying for their restoration of their rights; That period will be reduced from the current three years to two years. The Governor's procedures follow his pledge during the 2009 gubernatorial campaign to improve and quicken the restorations process. McDonnell also announced his Administration has already acted upon nearly 200 applications, with decisions now made on all applications submitted with all the required information between the January 16th Inauguration and April 1st. The Administration has also acted upon many of the 650 applications left over from the Kaine administration, which will all be completed by July 15th.I'll be very interested to hear what groups and individuals concerned about this issue have to say. For now, Virginia State Conference NAACP Executive Director King Salim Khalfani says:
Process is important, but results are even more important. The Virginia State Conference NAACP is encouraged that Governor McDonnell has already made a decision on the majority of completed applications submitted during the first few months of his Administration. We look forward to working with the Governor, Secretary of the Commonwealth and those who desire to have their rights restored in Virginia. The Governor, his staff and stakeholders have put alot of thought and time into producing a new process on the restoration of civil rights. We look forward to working with the Governor on this and other issues to make the Commonwealth of Virginia a better place for all.Agreed.
UPDATE: The Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) says, "as you may recall, last month, ACDC passed a resolution urging swifter restoration of voting rights for convicted felons after service of their sentence. I am happy to report that today, Governor McDonnell announced new rules to move Virginia toward that goal."
UPDATE #2: The reaction so far from advocacy groups is mixed. For instance, the Advancement Project says, "These changes hardly equal reform" and that "Restoration of voting rights should not be handled on a case by case basis." The ACLU of Virginia says, "Even with these changes, Virginia will still rank last or next to last in the nation in restoration of voting rights, and there will still be more than 300,000 disenfranchised felons here." I certainly agree that there's no excuse for this policy at all and that it needs to be changed ASAP. When a non-violent felon has done their time and paid their debt to society, they should be allowed to vote. Period.
UPDATE #3: See after the "flip" for Del. David Englin's statement on this.
...[McDonnell's] initial attempts to expedite the process [of restoring voting rights to non-violent ex-felons] have come with a fat asterisk that casts doubt on any claim to fairness and decency, let alone moderation...
...Only Virginia and Kentucky insist that some sanctions last indefinitely -- until the state, in its infinite wisdom, grants what the U.S. Constitution regards as the inalienable right to vote. In the Old Dominion, the result is that huge numbers of people are disenfranchised. Although the powers that be in Richmond regard former felons with such contempt that they don't even bother counting them, voting rights advocates estimate that some 300,000 ex-cons in Virginia remain barred from voting. African Americans account for just a fifth of Virginia's 7.8 million citizens but are thought to constitute about half of those ineligible to vote. This is Jim Crow by another name.
...Virginia's secretary of the commonwealth, Janet Polarek, who oversees the process, makes it sound as if the ex-offenders would be applicants vying for coveted positions at a selective college. The essays, she said, would allow the petitioners "to have their full stories heard."
For the second time in a week, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has angered black leaders and civil rights groups, this time when they learned of his plans to add another step for nonviolent felons to have their voting rights restored.Can McDonnell, Cooch et al. go even one day without angering someone or stirring up yet another controversy? It's hard to believe these guys have only been in office since January; it seems like an eternity.
McDonnell (R) will require the offenders to submit an essay outlining their contributions to society since their release, turning a nearly automatic process into a subjective one that some say may prevent the poor and less-educated from being allowed to vote.
"It's another roadblock,'' Sen. Yvonne B. Miller (D-Norfolk), a member of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said when she was told of the change.
Miller has repeatedly introduced unsuccessful bills to allow nonviolent offenders to have their rights restored automatically. "This is designed to suppress the rights of poor people," she said.
P.S. This is yet another example of why Tim Kaine should have restored all non-violent, ex-felons' voting rights before he left office. Big mistake.
UPDATE: Check out my recommended diary at Daily Kos.