In 2011 Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell restored rights to more than 1,350 felons according to recently released state documents. Given a similar rate in 2010, McDonnell is on pace, by the end of his term in office (Virginia’s constitution holds Governors to a single term) to restore right to more state felons than any of his predecessors in the Governors’ officer. The previous record holder for felon right restoration is McDonnell’s immediate predecessor, former Governor Tim Kaine.
Virginia law prevents felons from voting. holding public office and serving on juries. Improving Virginia’s restoration process was one of McDonnell’s campaign promises. Virginia is one of only a few states that automatically blocks the automatic restoration of rights of felons. Civil rights advocates note that the numbers cited are tiny in comparison to the hundreds of thousands effected over a Governor’s four-year term by Virginia’s comparatively severe restoration laws.
Other have asked that the Governor eliminate an existing requirement that nonviolent offenders write a letter dealing their offense when seeking the restoration of their voting rights, calling it an unnecessary roadblock in the process to rights restorations for Virginians who, in some cases, have put decades between themselves and their past transgressions.
Bill have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly that would automatically restore the rights of felons but not of these bill has been successfully passed into law.