I have noticed a series of articles critical to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order that restored voting rights to returning citizens who have completed their sentences and are no longer on supervised probation. The anger and fear highlighted by the General Assembly’s lawsuit against the administration is uncalled for; I am happy to see this vestige of Jim Crow eroding in the Commonwealth.
Through my internship with Virginia Organizing, I have met with returning citizens to help navigate the once-challenging paperwork to restore their right to vote. The process for the more serious crimes took years and involved letters of recommendation, paperwork from probation officers and the courts and a mandatory three-year waiting period.
By opposing the restoration of voting rights, the leaders of our General Assembly are implying that even though an individual has served their time and has rejoined society, they deserve to lose such an important right.
Nearly every other state already has automatic restoration of voting rights. Before Gov. Bob McDonnell began making these changes and McAuliffe built on that progress, Virginia was one of the hardest states to get voting rights restored. I want to live in a state where people who have committed a crime, have served their time, and have entered back into society are not marked as second-class citizens without the right to vote.