ACLU, Virginia Organizing comment on voting rights case

lawVirginia Organizing State Governing Board member and returning citizen Duane Edwards issued the following statement upon learning of the Virginia Supreme Court decision on restoration of civil rights.

“As a returning citizen, I know firsthand what it means when you can’t vote because of your past. While Virginia Organizing is confident that Governor Terry McAuliffe will find a way to restore the rights to those citizens who have served their time and are ready to participate in our civic processes, we are appalled by those politicians like Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell who have consistently put political ideology over the people of Virginia. It is unfair for returning citizens to hear that we deserve a second chance from politicians while they actively work against that second chance. Today goes down in history as another victory for Jim Crow and voter suppression, but we will continue to fight to overcome.”

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga made the following statement on the case:

“The court’s decision is disappointing but we remain committed to the principled goal of restoring voting and other rights to ex-offenders. We fully expect Gov. Terry McAuliffe to follow through on his promise to individually restore the rights of the 206,000 Virginians who were to have been affected by his executive order. He should start with the 11,662 people who in good faith followed the process they were instructed to follow. Moving forward, we call upon House Speaker William Howell to begin the process of putting a measure before the legislature to give Virginia voters the choice to amend the state constitution so that in the future no one will be forever stripped of the most basic of their civil rights. This would be a far more fair and democratic path than continuing to stubbornly refuse to allow ex-offenders to fully return to society.”

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