December 27, 2012
Convicted felons may get their voting rights reinstated faster if a state amendment makes it through the General Assembly.
Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen is behind the change. It would allow Virginians who have previously been convicted of a felony to receive their voting rights automatically once they have finished their sentence.
Legal experts in Charlottesville say the current system, which requires felons to petition the governor to regain their voting rights, is a big enough hurdle to discourage many of them from ever returning to the polls.
"Folks are really demoralized by the fact that, having served their time, they still need to go back, file this petition and serve the waiting time maybe before they can apply," said Carolyn Kalantari, with the Legal Aid Justice Center.