Governor Ralph Northam announced in a statement last week that he restored the civil rights to 22,005 Virginians who had been convicted of felonies. Among the rights restored were the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and become a notary public.
This is an update from a February press release from Northam, where he said more than 10,000 former felons’ rights had been restored.
Northam is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who also made voting rights central to his own time in office, restoring the rights of more than 170,000 convicted felons.
“Virginia remains one of the few states in the nation that permanently strip individuals of their civil rights after a felony conviction,” Northam said in the statement. “I’m proud to use my executive clemency power to restore those rights to Virginians who have completed their sentences and returned to their communities seeking a second chance.“
The Governor’s statement also included a link to restore.virginia.gov, a website dedicated to providing resources to felons interested in regaining their rights. The site supplies information on the rights restoration process, as well as links where visitors can check the status of their civil rights and request their rights be restored.
The website also provides testimonials from people who have had their rights restored. “I was able to vote for the first time in almost 30 years.” writes a woman named Lynette from Henrico. “Having my rights restored was the final piece to feeling like I completed my sentence. I feel like I can finally live as a whole citizen.”