RICHMOND - This afternoon, the Virginia Senate passed a constitutional amendment, SJ 223, by Thomas Norment (R-James City County) to permanently disenfranchise voters who have been convicted of "violent" felonies. The amendment passed on a party-line vote, 21-19.
Said Senator Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax), "The idea that anyone should permanently lose their right to vote -- even after paying their debt to society -- is unconscionable to me. Making the payment of restitution a criteria for restoration of rights essentially creates a poll tax. It is a relic of the Jim Crow era. "
Said Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), "If you look at whose rights were restored by the Governor's order in April, the vast majority of them live in Richmond. A lot of them have reached out to me over the years and the biggest impediment to getting their rights restored -- violent or non-violent -- was that they can't pay all of the fines, court costs, and restitution and until this Governor removed the requirement for them to have to pay these fines before they could get their rights restored, they couldn't get them restored."
Said Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), "The main purpose of SJ 223 is to overturn the Republican leadership's loss in the Virginia Supreme Court for an individualized process in restoring rights. This is a cynical, dishonest, and disingenuous effort that the people of Virginia will reject as over 60 percent support the Governor's action. We are not going backwards on this issue that Mr. Glass let us know his purpose in putting forth -- which is all this resolution is: blatant voter suppression of the highest order."

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