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It’s Time to Let the Voters Decide  

Access to the ballot box is the cornerstone of our democracy. Yet Virginia is one of two states that permanently takes away the right to vote from people with felony convictions, including those who have served their time.  

These returning citizens pay taxes, are contributing members of society, and could be your neighbor. They have completed their sentence, been held accountable for their crime, and been deemed not to be a threat to public safety, yet have a lifetime ban on voting.  That’s double jeopardy – punishing people for crimes for which they’ve already paid their debt. Taking away the right to vote should never be used as a punishment for crime.   

Currently, people with a felony conviction only have one way to gain access to the ballot box –through a governor’s restoration of those rights. This is a power that both Republican and Democrat governors have used to restore rights to thousands of returning citizens. But the process is cumbersome and inconsistent and could be eliminated by future governors. 

It’s time to guarantee the Right to Vote for people who have served their time. Here’s how we do that:  

Legislators need to vote on the same amendment - SJ 1 in the Senate and HJ 9 in the House with the exact same language that passed during the last General Assembly. 

The amendment goes on the November 2022 election ballot so the people can vote. 

The Facts

A.The Facts

A.
  • The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, yet it's not guaranteed for all Virginians. 
  • Virginia is one of only three states in the nation that permanently takes away a person’s right to vote if they have a felony conviction, even after they’ve served their time. 
  • The 1902 constitution was purposefully created to keep Black people from the ballot box. And it is still working as intended. Over 250,000 Virginians – the majority Black, Brown, or poor -  do not have the right to vote.  
  • While one in 20 non-Black Virginians are disenfranchised, one in seven Black Virginians are – largely because Black people are over-policed, subjected to harsher sentences and felonized at a higher rate. These racial disparities continue in the process of rights restoration: White people have their voting rights restored at a greater rate than people of color. In 2016, Governor Terry  McAuliffe restored the rights of 175,000 people, 52% were white. 
  • Granting returning citizens access to the ballot box is not a partisan issue and does not benefit one political party over another. A recent survey of 8,000 incarcerated people conducted by The Marshall Project and Slate Magazine found that like the country, respondents were divided almost evenly between support of the Republican and Democratic parties. 
  • Denying formerly incarcerated people from voting can create civic apathy. Formerly incarcerated people who regain the ability to vote have shown a much lower rate of recidivism.   
  • They’ve started businesses, created non-profits, become community leaders, and sheparded church ministries all to become engaged and productive members of their communities. 
  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police recognizes that civil rights restoration upon completion of a sentence is an important element of successful re-entry. 

What We Want

A.What We Want

A.

It’s time for Virginia to turn practice into law.  We do that by: 

  • Legislators passing the Right to Vote Amendment during this General Assembly session – exactly as it was passed last session. 
  • The amendment is then placed on the November 2022 election ballot. 
  • Virginians get to show they believe in second chances by voting favorably for the amendment. 

What You Can Do

A.What You Can Do

A.
  • Sign an action alert to your Virginia legislators to support the Right to Vote for returning citizens by clicking here
  • Follow and share our social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Until we pass the amendment, if you know someone eligible to have their rights restored, share this link with them.
  • Call or email your representatives on the House Privileges and Elections Committee and tell them to vote YES on SJ 1/SB 21. You can use the following script:
    • "Hi, my name is xx and I am your constituent in the xx district. I'm calling to ask you to vote yes on the Right to Vote amendment during this legislative session. As you know, Virginia is one of two states that permanently take the right to vote away from people who have been convicted of a felony, even after they've served their time. I believe that all people deserve a second chance, nor should they be punished for a lifetime once they've served their sentence. The ability to vote is a critical part of reintegration into civic life for returning citizens, empowering them to be productive members of their communities. Incarcerated people having their rights restored should not be at the whim of any one person - it's time we amend the Constitution of Virginia to ensure that once a person has served their time, they have an easy path to regain their eligibility to vote. As a constituent, I'm asking you to vote yes on the Right to Vote amendment and let Virginians vote."

  • Members to contact: 
    • Del. Ransone - (804) 698-1099, Del O'Quinn - (804) 698-1005, Del. Adams - (804) 698-1016, Del. Leftwich - (804) 698-1078, Del. Head - (804) 698-1017, Del. McGuire - (804) 698-1056, Del. Bloxom - (804) 698-1000, Del. Williams - (804) 698-1009, Del. Taylor - (804) 698-1063, Del. Scott - (804) 698-1088, Del. Greenhalgh - (804) 698-1085, Del. Wachsmann - (804) 698-1075, Del. Sickles - (804) 698-1043, Del. VanValkenburg - (804) 698-1072, Del. Convirs-Fowler - (804) 698-1021, Del. Krizek - (804) 698-1044, Del. Adams - (804) 698-1068, Del. Reid - (804) 698-1032, Del. Simonds - (804) 698-1094, Del. Mundon King - (804) 698-1002, Del. Maldonado - (804) 698-1050, Del. Glass - (804) 698-1089