Last week, Virginia’s Gov. Terry Mcaullife, by executive order, released the shackles of “No Voting for life,” from released felons. Before the Governor’s executive order, felons could never vote in Virginia even after completing parole or probation. Gov. Mcaullife used his executive power because the Virginia’s Republican dominated Legislature opposed legislation to restore their voting rights. This order will allow 200,000 felons who have completed their sentence including probation to immediately register to vote in the 2016 presidential election.
Virginia’s Constitution had banned felons from voting since the post civil war era. The voting ban was put in place to restrict freed slaves from voting. Further voting restrictions such as the poll tax and literacy tests were enacted in 1902 to stop black Americans from voting.
Gov. Mcaullife campaigned in 2014 promising to restore the voting rights of felons. He stated, “People have served their time and done their probation…I want you back in society…I want you voting, getting a job, paying taxes.”
Virginia’s action joined 20 other states over the last 20 years restoring voting rights to felons. However, other states such as Maryland, have taken voter restoration one step further, by allowing felons who have served their time in prison to vote immediately after release.
for the pundits who scream this action by Gov. Mcaullife was a political move to help the Democrats during this presidential election——so what,it helps to balance Republican’s actions throughout the United States restricting minorities from voting by increasing voter identification requirements and other restrictive measures.
On a personal note, I was allowed to vote again in Maryland this past Tuesday due to the steps taken in Maryland to restore felon’s voting rights. I was grateful to have this right again.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com