Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has announced a new policy that will make it easier for former felons to regain their voting rights.
Under the policy, which would take effect on Monday, the commonwealth will provide a list of offenses that require a waiting period before offenders can apply to have their rights restored, remove drug crimes from the list and decrease the wait time for former violent offenders from five years to three.
In 2013, former Gov. Bob McDonnell spearheaded the initiative to allow former felons to apply for the restoration of their voting rights. Under the policy he formulated, felons would wait five years before being able to apply, while non-violent offenders could have those rights restored immediately.
In a statement, McAuliffe said he wanted to build upon McDonnell's work by making the process more transparent and inclusive.
“Virginians who have made a mistake and paid their debt to society should have their voting rights restored through a process that is as transparent and responsive as possible,” he said. “These changes will build on the process Virginia has in place to increase transparency for applicants and ensure that we are restoring Virginians’ civil rights quickly and efficiently after they have applied and observed any necessary waiting period."
According to data compiled by Stateline, over 450,000 Virginians have had their voting rights revoked due to felony convictions, representing over seven percent of the commonwealth's voters in the 2010 election.
Since taking office earlier this year, McAuliffe has restored the voting rights of 800 former felons.