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Virginia Organizing to march Saturday to protest the rollback of restoration of rights

Crystal Graham
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Three days before the 2023 election, members of Virginia Organizing will march from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond to the Governor’s mansion. The march is being held to protest Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s refusal to restore voting rights to returning citizens according to the process developed by Virginia’s previous governors, as well as the removal of eligible voters from the rolls.

The group will be holding their largest gathering of the year at St. Paul’s and expect at least 100 people to join the march on Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m.

“Governor Youngkin is misusing his power as governor to control who can get their rights back because he doesn’t have a procedure that’s fair to everyone, unlike his three predecessors in office,” said Duane Edwards, a member of Virginia Organizing’s state governing board from Fredericksburg. “Automatic restoration is genuinely non-partisan because you don’t look at an applicant’s zip code or name. Youngkin is picking and choosing which Virginians he’s going to allow to move on with their lives.”

Terry White, of Norfolk, said everyone has a right to vote to hold elected officials accountable.

“It is part of democracy and being a part of a community. I am a returning citizen. My rights were restored by former Governor McAuliffe with the help of Virginia Organizing,” said White. “People coming out of prison have served their time and just want to put their lives back together: get a job, be with their families, be back as active members in their community. All the previous governors, in a bipartisan way, have improved the process. However, Gov. Youngkin is not doing enough to restore the rights of returning citizens.”

Barbara Harris, of Franklin, said it is a shame that all the progress made over the years is being turned back by the Youngkin administration.

“Without restoration of rights I would not have become the productive person that I am today,” said Harris, a member of Virginia Organizing’s state governing board, who had her rights restored nine years ago.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is located at 815 E. Grace Street in Richmond.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.