As they continue to try to use the courts as a vehicle for disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Virginians, Republicans like Tommy Norment are also putting forward legislation to permanently right their backward anti-voter position into the Virginia Constitution. By continuously defending and trying to strengthen a policy that disproportionately impacts African-Americans, Norment and his Republican colleagues are demonstrating clearly that they are driven by cynical politics. Despite their deception, journalists have exposed their actions as another step backward in the fight for civil rights for all Virginians.
Virginia Republicans’ essentially racist project – The Washington Post
Mr. Norment’s amendment would leave Virginia as an extreme outlier in terms of restoration of rights. [...] For Mr. Norment, the bill is retribution against Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who has infuriated Republicans by attempting to restore voting rights to some 200,000 ex-convicts, nearly half of them African Americans and many of them disenfranchised decades after the completion of their sentences. While Mr. Norment’s constitutional amendment could not take effect for several years — it would require legislative enactment and approval at referendum by voters — it would strip future governors of any role in restoring voting rights, a power enshrined in Virginia’s constitution for more than a century.
Tommy Norment's felon-rights proposal gets smacked down – The Richmond Times Dispatch
This is not to say Norment has struck the right balance. In some cases repayment could take many years, and demonstrating a good-faith effort to pay down the obligation over time might be a better standard. Even more troubling is the requirement under Norment’s proposal that ex-cons complete their suspended sentences before regaining their voting rights. Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, ended that policy. And should the legislature define drug crimes as violent offenses, Norment’s measure would sharply curtail the number of individuals eligible to regain voting rights.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe once again is under attack from Republican leaders in the General Assembly who are determined to halt his efforts to restore the voting and political rights of hundreds of thousands of felons who have served their time.
Schapiro: For some Va. Republicans, lifelong voting bar is a non-starter – The Richmond Times-Dispatch
Tommy Norment, the majority leader of the Virginia Senate, is proposing an amendment to the state constitution under which violent felons never would get back their voting rights — which apparently would be a first among the states. Nonviolent felons who had completed their terms could qualify for automatic restoration, but with a catch that might make it more difficult. […] Five days later, Norment unveiled a proposal that not only seemed to confirm that Republicans support lifelong punishment for some felons, but in the face of population change and demographic shifts that threaten the party, they are doubling their efforts to control the size of the Virginia electorate.