RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) — More than 10,000 people have had their right to vote restored since Gov. Ralph Northam took office, the governor announced Tuesday.
In a press release, Northam said 10,992 convicted felons had their civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, and run for office, restored.
“I believe in second chances and making our commonwealth more open and accessible to all,” Northam was quoted as saying in the release. “Virginians who have repaid their debts should be able to return to society, get a good job and participate in our democracy.”
The release said Northam has restored the rights to more people than any Virginia governor, other than former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who cleared a backlog of more than 173,000 people.
McAuliffe viewed the restoration of voting rights, which he did largely by individually signing orders for every individual after the Virginia Supreme Court blocked his move to restore rights to over 200,000 people at once, as his most important legacy.
But the move to restore voting rights began with Republican Governor Robert McDonnell, who, in 2013, launched an initiative to streamline the restoration process for non-violent felons.
The rights restoration does not include the right to own a firearm, which must be sought separately through a petition of the circuit court.
“I am proud to have worked with two governors to improve the rights restoration process—making it easier for individuals to have a second chance and move forward with their lives,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “Governor Northam has been committed to this process from day one and our team has worked diligently to achieve this milestone.”