Richmond, Virginia—Democratic lawmakers met today with Governor Glenn Youngkin to discuss his sudden decision to exacerbate the process of restoring rights for people who have served prison sentences and returned to their communities. This change has ended a decade of bipartisan support for the restoration of rights, and lawmakers want answers.
“Governor Youngkin has some explaining to do when it comes to his stance on the restoration of rights. He must reverse course and continue the trend of ensuring that everyone has the ability to vote in our elections, including people who have served their prison sentences and rejoined our communities,” LaTwyla Mathias, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “Republicans and Democrats alike have worked together to restore the voting rights of returning citizens, and his reversal of this process without explanation only makes sense if he wants to make it harder for some people to vote. Our democracy works best when everyone is able to participate, and we will keep working to ensure that everyone in our community can cast their ballot on Election Day.”
The trend of restoring rights for returning citizens started in 2013 under Republican Governor Bob McDonnell and was continued by the McAuliffe and Northam administrations.
By requiring an application and extensive review before rights can be restored, Governor Youngkin has slowed the process down to a trickle. Only 800 people had their rights restored between May and October of last year. Governor Northam restored the rights of 126,000 people. Governor McAuliffe restored the right of 173,000 people, so Governor Youngkin is far off the mark.