Constitutional amendment (first resolution); qualifications to vote; executive clemency;restoration. (HJ491)

Introduced By

Del. Greg Habeeb (R-Salem) with support from co-patron Del. Peter Farrell (R-Henrico)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate

Description

Constitutional amendment (first resolution); qualifications to vote; executive clemency; restoration of right to vote. Provides that no person convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless he has completed service of his sentence, including any modifications of the sentence, and the payment in full of any restitution, fines, costs, and fees assessed against him as a result of the felony conviction. The proposed amendment removes the power of the Governor or other appropriate authority (such as another state's law) to restore the right to vote to a felon. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
07/25/2014Committee
07/25/2014Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/15 15100101D
07/25/2014Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
01/13/2015Assigned P & E sub: Constitutional Amendments
02/10/2015Left in Privileges and Elections

Comments

Safer Virginia writes:

Only in Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia, do felons and ex-felons permanently lose their right to vote, without a pardon from the governor. This amendment further restricts voting rights, punishing Virginia citizens more harshly than the vast majority of other states. In 38 states and the District of Columbia, most ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon the completion of their sentence. Most recent state legislation seeks to expand felon voting rights and ease the process of restoration. That should be Virginia’s direction as well. When a felon has completed his sentence, his right to vote should be restored, regardless of how the Commonwealth classifies the offense.

Thirty-seven states allow convicted felons to vote after they have served part or all of their sentences.
Harris, Courtney. "Felon Voter Disenfranchisement." Felon Voter Disenfranchisement. The Council of State Governments, 27 May 2014. Web. 1 Jan. 2015.

ACLU-VA Voting Rights, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation to amend the Virginia Constitution to repeal the Commonwealth’s felon disenfranchisement provision. The ACLU strongly supports automatically restoring the rights of all persons convicted of felonies without being conditioned on payment of fines, fees, and restitution. Supporting proposals without conditions does not absolve individuals convicted of felonies from their duties to pay the court or victims. A vast majority of disenfranchised citizens in Virginia are not incarcerated and are tax-paying citizens with jobs and families who are involved in their communities. For the purposes of voting, financial obligations should not prohibit citizens from exercising their constitutional rights. Virginia, one of the worst states in the nation for felon disenfranchisement, has an estimated 450,000, or nearly 7.3 percent, citizens who have permanently lost their constitutional right to vote.

ACLU-VA Legislative Agenda, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation to amend the Virginia Constitution to repeal the Commonwealth’s felon disenfranchisement provision. The ACLU strongly supports automatically restoring the rights of all persons convicted of felonies without being conditioned on payment of fines, fees, and restitution. Supporting proposals without conditions does not absolve individuals convicted of felonies from their duties to pay the court or victims. A vast majority of disenfranchised citizens in Virginia are not incarcerated and are tax-paying citizens with jobs and families who are involved in their communities. For the purposes of voting, financial obligations should not prohibit citizens from exercising their constitutional rights. Virginia, one of the worst states in the nation for felon disenfranchisement, has an estimated 450,000, or nearly 7.3 percent, citizens who have permanently lost their constitutional right to vote.