March 27, 2023 News & Press Releases

WHAT VIRGINIANS ARE READING: Youngkin Rolls Back Voting Rights

by Democratic Party of Virginia

RICHMOND, VA – In one of his most regressive acts as governor, Glenn Youngkin has rolled back Virginia’s long-standing practice of automatically restoring voting rights to free Virginians with a prior felony conviction. The program was started by a Republican former governor, Bob McDonnell, and was further expanded by former Governors McAuliffe and Northam.

Youngkin did not publicly announce his decision to end the automatic restoration of voting rights – instead, it came to light after numerous constituent complaints prompted him to confess the changes to the public.

“The governor clearly had something to hide,” said Liam Watson, Press Secretary of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Not only did Youngkin roll back a long-standing bipartisan practice of ensuring every free Virginian has the right to vote, but he did it under the cover of darkness.”

The Washington Post: Youngkin requires people convicted of felonies to apply for voting rights

March 23, 2023 | Gregory S. Schneider

  • “Youngkin canceled a practice begun by a Republican predecessor, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, of automatically restoring rights for at least some former inmates once their sentence is complete”
  • “Instead, each person must file an application and will be considered on a case-by-case basis”

AXIOS: Youngkin’s rights restoration rollback

March 27, 2023 | Ned Oliver

  • “Virginia and Kentucky are the only two states that permanently disenfranchise residents convicted of any felony offenses, leaving restoration to the discretion of the governor”
  • “Youngkin’s new approach came to light after lawmakers said they began fielding complaints from constituents and asked Youngkin’s administration if it had implemented a new policy”
  • “In response, Youngkin’s administration clarified that it was no longer automating the process”

ABC8: Youngkin changes Virginia’s voting rights restoration process

March 23, 2023 | Dean Mirshahi

  • “Gov. McDonnell expedited the restoration process…Gov. Ralph Northam removed the requirement that Virginians with felony convictions have to finish being under community supervision”
  • “These policies have ended with the changes from Youngkin’s administration, raising concerns among Democrats over the criteria for the restoration process”
  • “A report shows that ‘only 4,000 voters’ rights were restored in 2022 compared with about 90,000 in 2021, 17,000 in 2020, and 16,000 in 2019’”

Virginia Mercury: Youngkin administration now requires felons to apply to get their voting rights back

March 23, 2023 | Graham Moomaw

  • “Virginia is one of just a few states with a constitutional rule that automatically disenfranchises people with felony convictions unless a governor chooses to restore their rights”
  • “The Youngkin administration would not elaborate on what specific criteria the governor is using to make those decisions”
  • “McAuliffe restored rights to more than 173,000 people. Northam granted more than 126,000 rights restorations”