On Friday, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order that would allow ex-felons the right to vote. More than 200,000 Virginia residents who have served their sentences and been released from parole or probation will benefit. McAuliffe’s unilateral action eliminates the former system in which ex-felons would have to face a lengthy waiting period, appear in front of a board, and complete a re-registration process. Because there is no automatic restoration law, McAuliffe plans to sign a similar executive order on a monthly basis.
Restoring the right to vote is a bold and necessary step for our country. At the signing ceremony, McAuliffe said the he hopes to help undo the state’s long history of trying to prevent African-Americans from fully participating in government. Felon disenfranchisement occurs to some extent in every U.S. state (except Vermont and Maine). By eliminating the various restrictions nationwide, citizens can maintain their sense of identity and civic duty in our democracy.