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March 9, 2022

The chance for Virginia voters to have their say on the Right to Vote Constitutional Amendment was officially killed in the 2022 General Assembly session. Six politicians decided to ignore the will of the people and the fate of more than 250,000 returning citizens, many of whom are their constituents, and voted down SJ 1 in a 7:30 a.m. subcommittee meeting. If SJ1 had made it to the House floor and then onto the November ballot, there was an extremely high chance that Virginia voters would have voted to amend the Virginia constitution, replacing the antiquated and cumbersome restoration system that is dependent on the largesse of a sitting governor, with a guaranteed right to vote for all Virginians who have served their time and returned to their communities. 

The ACLU of Virginia is deeply disappointed with both the outcome and the process that led to the outcome. We’ve watched during this General Assembly session as everything from voting to abortion rights, to marriage equality, to classroom censorship, to the Second Look legislation, to how transgender students should be treated have become political chips. Bills that have had strong bipartisan support, including the Right to Vote constitutional amendment, which had no opposition, were passed by only to serve a political agenda. While these political maneuvers are discouraging, we’re not giving up. 

The vote on SJ 1 only proves that we need to mobilize and organize so our voices will be heard. The vote on SJ 1 underscores the importance of voting for candidates that will deliver the results you want. And it reminds us that we must constantly fight against a system that allows a few politicians to make decisions that affect so many. The Right to Vote Amendment that was killed was a compromise that people on both sides of the aisle could support. So, we’ll continue to fight until we guarantee the right to vote for all Virginians.