The Debate Continues Over Felon Voting Rights

May 29, 2013

Felon Voting Rights

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has unveiled a list of options that would expedite the process of voting-rights restoration for non-violent felons. 

The proposals were made by a bipartisan advisory panel he created after a rights-restoration amendment to the state Constitution that he endorsed failed to pass the General Assembly this year. 

And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the Attorney General says Governors can and should do more to intervene.

The Attorney General voted against rights-restoration bills as a Senator, but says his views have evolved.

“For years, I have expressed concern about the ratcheting up of several low-level offenses.”

He calls that “felony creep,” which made more citizens felons--who need a better path to re-enter society. While the state Constitution enables the Governor to restore their rights, the panel says it does not empower him nor the General Assembly to automatically restore rights to all felons.  Cuccinelli adds that it doesn’t look like lawmakers will pass a change to that any time soon, so Governors should wield their authority to improve the process.

“He also can choose to exercise his power in a more proactive manner and is not required to wait for an ex-offender to apply for restoration.  So they can go out and seek folks who would qualify. In addition, the General Assembly could assist the process by appropriating funds to support a more permanent function in the executive branch.”