Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Urge Gov. McDonnell to Issue Executive Order Restoring Voting Rights to Virginians!


It is estimated that over 450,000 individuals – about 7.3% of the state's population – are barred from exercising their right to vote in Virginia due to a felony conviction.
Virginia is one of only four states that permanently disenfranchise every individual with a felony conviction, leaving it to the Governor to decide whose right to vote will be restored. To reform this law, we must amend the state constitution, which will require approval by two separate legislative sessions and a referendum of Virginia voters.
Governor Bob McDonnell has publicly announced his support for efforts to reform Virginia's antiquated felony disenfranchisement law. Since Virginia legislators seem unwilling to reform this law, it's time for the Governor to issue an executive order.
Why reform?
  • Felon disenfranchisement is fundamentally unfair. Once individuals have repaid their debt to society, it stands to reason that they should be allowed to fully participate in our democracy. 
  • Felon disenfranchisement was intended to suppress minority voters. Felon disfranchisement, along with literacy tests and polls taxes, dates to the Jim Crow era. It still disproportionately impacts people of color.
  • Felon disenfranchisement is bad public policy. Studies show that felons who do not vote are twice as likely to commit another crime as those who vote. Restoring voting rights, therefore, appears to reduce crime.
The vast majority of disenfranchised persons in Virginia and the U.S. are no longer incarcerated and are tax-paying citizens with jobs and families who are involved in their communities. At least two-thirds have fully completed their sentences, including probation and parole. 

Urge Gov. McDonnell to issue an executive order restoring the voting rights of Virginians with felony convictions!
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