Virginia sees increasing demand for voting rights restoration
By Kyle Maichle
RICHMOND, Virginia: Since first-year Governor Bob McDonnell has announced a new process to improve the process for individuals seeking to restore their voting rights on May 20, 2010, the McDonnell Administration has seen an increasing demand from individuals seeking to restore their rights.
Governor McDonnell announced new procedures for individuals who have been convicted of crimes to restore their voting rights. The new changes ordered by the Governor include that an applicant must receive an response on application within 60 days of the Governor's office receiving an application. Also, the waiting period to apply was reduced from four years after being released from prison to three. Also, McDonnell changed a policy that if someone was given a traffic ticket while applying for civil rights restoration would not disqualify them from consideration. Former Governor Tim Kaine, had a policy that would disqualify someone from civil rights restoration even if a applicant was given a traffic ticket during the application process.
The new changes and the increased demand have resulted in the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office struggling to meet with the demand. This comes from all persons who have applied during the McDonnell and Kaine administrations to be re-considered under the new policy. The Secretary of the Commonwealth has contacted all applicants to make sure that their applications are complete and asking for more information if necessary. Before the executive order was signed on May 20th, 404 applications for civil rights restoration were received. Since May 20th, an additional 134 applications have been received.
Despite the changes have been well-received by community leaders, one Virginian legislator is calling for more changes to the process. Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) would author a bill when the Virginia Legislature re-convenes in January of 2011 calling for automatic civil rights restoration. Despite Herring is pleased with the call to improve the civil rights restoration in Virginia, she feels "it's a waste of resources" for the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Governor to have an application process to restore civil rights.