RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Two civil rights groups are urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to issue an executive order restoring the voting rights of about 350,000 felons who have completed their sentences.
Officials with the Advancement Project and Virginia New Majority said Wednesday that a constitutional amendment isn't required to allow automatic restoration of rights. They said that while Virginia's constitution specifically authorizes the governor to restore rights, it places no limits on that power. The groups say that means the governor could do it with the stroke of a pen.
In the last legislative session, McDonnell unsuccessfully pushed for a constitutional amendment to allow automatic restoration of nonviolent felons' rights.
Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli also has appointed a panel to examine whether automatic restoration of rights is possible within the existing constitutional framework.