Edited by Chris Graham
Gov. Bob McDonnell is reportedly pulling back from a proposal that would have required nonviolent offenders in Virginia seeking to have their voting rights restored to write a letter describing the nature of their crime, community services, church activities, improvement made to their educational status, and an explanation as to why they deserve to be able to vote again.
The governor had come under intense criticism for the idea that began floating around in politics and media circles over the weekend.
A report in the Washington Post quoted a spokesperson for the governor saying the new requirement was a mistake instituted by a “well-meaning staffer” without proper authority.
The latest step in the story drew praise from ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis.
“We are delighted if the administration is serious about dropping the requirement for a lengthy personal letter to the governor and look forward to a productive discussion with the governor’s office about improving the restoration procedure,” Willis said.
Virginia and Kentucky are the only two states in the nation that permanently disfranchise all felons. Ex-felons need the approval of the governor for voting rights to be restored.
Thirty-nine states automatically restore voting rights after felons have completed the terms of their sentences.