Non-Violent Felons Call for Restoration of Voting Rights

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

People rallied Wednesday night outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. in an effort to expand voting rights in Virginia.

Herman Via is a convicted felon who now lives in Harrisonburg and who is trying to get his voting rights restored.

Several civil rights groups are calling on Gov. Tim Kaine (D) to sign an executive order re-establishing voting rights for non-violent felons.

They want this done before Republican Bob McDonnell's inauguration next week. The groups are concerned it will become more difficult once the new governor takes office.

"We've paid our restitution. We've done our time. We've done everything else we could do. And then, we have to wait to get our rights back to vote. There are only two states that do that. It seems like once you finish everything, it should be fully restored," says Via.

In several media interviews, Kaine has said a blanket restoration isn't possible. That's based on his advisers' analysis of Virginia law.

His office says he's already restored rights for about 4,300 felons individually.

"Since I got out, I've been paying my child support and my taxes. I got my driver's license, opened my own catering business. It's a sense of completion," says Via.

The groups will hold another rally Thursday in Richmond.


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