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January 15, 2013 (The Washington Times)

Virginia Gov. McDonnell springs surprise in pushing for restoration of civil rights

In his annual State of the Commonwealth speech, Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell advocated for legislation that would allow nonviolent ex-offenders to regain their civil rights, including the right to vote, once they finish their sentences.

According to The Sentencing Project, about 350,000 Virginians who have completed their sentences are barred from voting.

In Virginia, the power to restore those rights lies solely with the governor. 

And McDonnell has made good on his promise to accelerate the process, setting a nonbinding 60-day deadline for administration officials to act on petitions. As a result, he has restored the rights of more than 4,400 people who were incarcerated— eclipsing the previous high mark set by his predecessor, Democrat Time Kaine. 

But Monday, the GOP-dominated House of Delegates subcommittee soundly rejected the proposed constitutional amendment on an unrecorded voice vote.

Issue Area(s): Sentencing Policy, Incarceration, Racial Disparity, Felony Disenfranchisement, Collateral Consequences