Group Wants to Change VA Ex-Felon Voting Law

By: Deon Guillory Email
By: Deon Guillory Email

Paying your debt to society... But treated like a criminal the rest of your life. Virginia is one of just four states that requires ex-felons to appeal to the governor in order to have their voting rights restored. The NAACP is trying to change that. It's kicking off a campaign it says is trying to combat disenfranchisement.
One state lawmaker says there is room for improvement.

With 31 days until election day, many people are talking about the big race,but as enthusiastic as some are about November sixth, they can't all cast a ballot.
Many are convicted felons
Kevin smith served four years for grand larceny and cocaine possession. He's been out 11 months. He even tried to register to vote, but gave up.
"The only way i would look into it again is if something change in the government, concerning that" said Kevin Smith.

Virginia law states ex-felons have to wait five years to appeal to the governor in order to have the right to vote. The way the law works is that the five years don't start as soon as you get out of jail. You still have to serve out your probation and pay restitution, then the five years start.

Delegate Tony Wilt says, "I think that's something we need to look at."
Wilt says he's all for ex-felon's, who are non-violent offenders, to have their voting rights restored.
"Is there some ways that we can reduce that time. Is there some things we can do to help expedite that process?" Wilt asked.

It's A possible step forward for many, working to get their lives back on track.
"I love to vote, but maybe one day, that law will change." said Smith

TheNAACP has put up billboards to win this fight. Governor Bob Mcdonnell has already restored the rights to more than 3800 ex-felons, the most of any governor to date.


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