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Virginia Restores Felon’s Voting Rights


Last week, Virginia’s Gov. Terry Mcaullife, by executive order, released the shackles of “No Voting for life,” from released felons. Before the Governor’s executive order, felons could never vote in Virginia even after completing parole or probation. Gov. Mcaullife used his executive power because the Virginia’s Republican dominated Legislature opposed legislation to restore their voting rights. This order will allow 200,000 felons who have completed their sentence including probation to immediately register to vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Virginia’s Constitution had banned felons from voting since the post civil war era. The voting ban was put in place to restrict freed slaves from voting. Further voting restrictions such as the poll tax and literacy tests were enacted in 1902 to stop black Americans from voting.

Gov. Mcaullife campaigned in 2014 promising to restore the voting rights of felons. He stated, “People have served their time and done their probation…I want you back in society…I want you voting, getting a job, paying taxes.”

Virginia’s action joined 20 other states over the last 20 years restoring voting rights to felons. However, other states such as Maryland, have taken voter restoration one step further, by allowing felons who have served their time in prison to vote immediately after release.

for the pundits who scream this action by Gov. Mcaullife was a political move to help the Democrats during this presidential election——so what,it helps to balance Republican’s actions throughout the United States restricting minorities from voting by increasing voter identification requirements and other restrictive measures.

On a personal note, I was allowed to vote again in Maryland this past Tuesday due to the steps taken in Maryland to restore felon’s voting rights. I was grateful to have this right again.

By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of

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12 Responses to Virginia Restores Felon’s Voting Rights

  1. PrisonPath May 2, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    K.B.–Unsat…the victim of a murderer will never get to vote!

  2. PrisonPath May 2, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

    Many of the felons have committed nonviolent offenses. Their sentences are less than ten years. By restoring voting, you can help make the eventual re-entry a positive ending.
    By–Brad Schwartz
    Founder of

  3. PrisonPath May 2, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

    Tina Brogna– After they have paid their debt’s to society, it’s only fair that voting rights be restored. ….Great start Virginia!

  4. PrisonPath May 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    Paul– We allow our prison population so many other luxuries, so why not this? Or why bother punishing them at all, slap em with a huge fine and be done with it. I am so sick of liberal thought about justice and ‘how things SHOULD be,’ put yourself in the shoes of a crime victim and do what’s best for the community, provide JUSTICE, for once.

  5. PrisonPath May 3, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    Sherri– I find myself with mixed feelings over this.

    On one hand, certain non-violent crimes judged as “felonies” do seem to be too minimal to remove someone’s voting rights for the rest of their life.

    On the other hand, to allow ALL felons a blanket pass, no matter their crime makes me uncomfortable.

    I wish a middle ground had been considered for this policy. I don’t live in VA, but I wonder how this will effect future decisions.

  6. PrisonPath May 4, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

    Candice– Awesome!! As an Employment Specialist with Va Cares (re-entry program) I can honestly say this gives our participants hope for a better future.

  7. PrisonPath May 13, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

    Headley–I find it interesting that in many cases, the very same people who claim that the 2nd Amend. grants individual citizens the right to bear arms, without actually SAYING that, seek to defend a practice that flies in the face of 8th Amend. protections against “excessive fines and bails, as well as cruel and unusual punishment”. To deny, for life, a Constitutionally granted right to vote, AFTER having “paid one’s debt to society” via fines, imprisonment, OR BOTH, is in my mind both cruel and unusual. We should also remember whence from these prohibitions came to
    fame. Post-Civil War Reconstruction southern governments enacted these laws, along with “vagrancy” and other statutes to re-enslave and disenfranchise their Black populations; the fact that the idea gained national popularity is nothing more than homage paid to the truth that America’s legislated racism eventually goes national, even when the genesis is local.

  8. PrisonPath May 15, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

    Lance– I think it’s a good thing. I live in VA. and don’t have a problem with it.

  9. PrisonPath May 15, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

    Belinda– I’m curious..does VA have Re-Entry Court programs for offenders on the State and/or Federal level ? In Michigan we have the programs in both criminal justice populations and to me, voting restoration is a part of the philosophy behind re-entry programs….to provide offender populations with the education, job training, treatment programs and other supportive services they need to have a fair chance to succeed on supervision and beyond. Why not grant individuals the right to vote if they successfully complete supervision, become employed, are successful in their recovery efforts and everything else that goes along with :being a contributing member of society”. It’s about the ability to make choices that all of us have….yes there will always be segments in society, whether they have committed crimes or not, that choose to do nothing but be a part of the problem, but for those offenders that WANT TO VOTE and have otherwise proven that they have changed for the better..WHY NOT ??

  10. PrisonPath May 16, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

    Joyce– High risk offenders wear electronic bracelets to detect or deter future crimes and is viewed as an effective tool for public safety. Hopefully, having the right to vote could be viewed as no threat to public safety or need for continued punishment, once the debt to society has been completed.

  11. PrisonPath May 16, 2016 at 3:51 pm #

    Jose– Must point-out that after doing electronic monitoring surveillance for 19 years: Electronic monitoring does not deter crime, it merely shows a transmitter was within range of a receiver at a particular time and place…it does not monitor activity, that’s where the probation officer’s involvement comes into play!

  12. Paul June 12, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    God is all Good!! God is all Great!! God is all Knowing!! Humans are not all good. Humans are not all great. Humans are not all knowing. I say this to draw attention to the reality that the Governor is in sync with universal truths and constitutional precepts.
    Humans will make bad choices because they are not all knowing. Humans will make bad choices because of what they have chosen to believe.
    One of the greatest wars that was fought in this country was due to the denial of rights by a group of people who felt that they had the right to rule over others not by vote but by birth right. Thank God for the vision of democracy. Thank the founding Father’s for the courage to capture and struggle for it. When has the constitution of the United States not said” We the people?” Because you violate societal laws does that make you not a person? When you complete your prison term does that not mean you have done the time for the crime? When you have completed your probation and or parole does this not mean that an appointed and or elected representative of the people have reason that you have done all that We the people have deemed necessary? Why not allow you to have some say in the policies that govern your life? Why not allow you a chance to represent a body of people who want you to be there voice? America the beautiful !!!
    Closing, thank you, Governor, you are a man of the people, a person of courage and conviction, and seer of the vision of the founding father’s. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to have a say in the policies that affect every aspect of my life.

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