WASHINGTON – On Friday Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that he would take executive action to restore voting rights to over 200,000 previously incarcerated people in the state. The move would remove one of the nation’s harshest restrictions on the voting rights of ex-offenders, which disproportionately affects the African American community: according to The Sentencing Project, in Virginia currently one in five African Americans is unable to vote. The state previously blocked people with prior felony convictions from voting for the rest of their lives.
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement:
“We applaud Gov. McAuliffe for taking this important stand in support of a democracy that works for everyone. Restrictions on the voting rights of ex-offenders are one of the most pernicious forms of voter suppression. His move on this issue should be a model for other states looking to live up to our country’s core principle of government of, by and for the people.
“This is a historic step forward towards a country where all people have access to the ballot box — a promise that so many have fought to make a reality throughout our country’s history. It’s especially significant in a state that for years was one of the worst offenders in voter disenfranchisement. When people who have served their time are still categorically prevented from participating in our democracy, that’s not only morally wrong, it weakens our political system for everyone. Our democracy is at its strongest when every voice can be heard and every person can cast a vote that counts.”