Resolution is First Step in Process; As Governor, Terry Will Work Tirelessly to Codify Restoration of Rights During First Year of His Administration
As Virginia’s 72nd Governor, Terry Restored Voting Rights to 173,000 Virginians, More Than Any Governor in American History
MCLEAN, VA – Terry McAuliffe today called on the Virginia General Assembly to pass a resolution this session for a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to Virginians convicted of felonies. Enshrining this monumental policy in Virginia’s Constitution requires the General Assembly to pass resolutions for the amendment during two separate legislative sessions, followed by a ballot referendum approved by voters. As governor, Terry will work tirelessly to ensure the passage of a second resolution and its approval by voters during the first year of his administration.
As Virginia’s 72nd governor, Terry restored voting rights to 173,000 Virginians, more than any governor in U.S. history. Terry prevailed over significant opposition from Republicans in his effort, including multiple lawsuits. House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), a Co-Chair of Terry for Virginia, will file a resolution to start the constitutional amendment process this week, and Senate Caucus Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) has filed a constitutional amendment resolution for this session as well. Majority Leader Herring has previously introduced legislation on this matter, as has Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath).
One Virginian whose voting rights Terry restored is Kelvin Manurs, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Desert Storm. Because of this racist Jim Crow-era law, even after he served his time, Kelvin was kept from participating in the very democracy he fought to protect. Regarding Terry restoring his voting rights, Kelvin says: “It means a lot to individuals to know that they’re part of society again. The thing about Terry McAuliffe that stands out to me most is his courage. And I say that not just on his behalf, [but] because that’s what I’ve observed in his character. He looks at situations and sees the wrongs that are present and looks at solutions.”
“For far too long, Black Virginians have had to fight to exercise their right to vote. I look forward to introducing a resolution this session that will begin the process of codifying the restoration of voting rights in Virginia’s Constitution,” said House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, Co-Chair of Terry for Virginia. “The ability to participate in this sacred franchise should be guaranteed, and it’s time we put an end to this racist practice that has disenfranchised Black Virginians disproportionately for over a century. Now is the time to go big and be bold to ensure equity in voting rights for all Virginians.”
“There is no more fundamental right than the ability to participate in our democratic process, and restoring voting rights to 173,000 Virginians is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life,” said Terry McAuliffe. “This racist Jim Crow-era law was designed specifically to disenfranchise Black Virginians, and Virginia must put a stop to it once and for all. I urge the legislature to take action this session. We must ensure Virginians are able to participate in our democracy in order to build a more equitable Commonwealth.”
Thanks to Terry’s efforts, more than 200,000 Virginians have now had their voting rights restored, including Eric Branch, who recently joined Terry for a virtual conversation on second chances. Eric stood with Terry in 2016 when Terry announced he would individually restore voting rights to hundreds of thousands of Virginians. Eric recently shared his story, saying: “to be able to vote now means that I’m voting on things in the future: better schools, better education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Since launching his campaign, Terry has released big, bold plans to strengthen Virginia’s education system by addressing inequities and dramatically increasing teacher pay, help secure Virginia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and create a more equitable future, and ensure Virginians have access to regular nutritious meals. As governor, Terry will take bold and decisive action to create jobs, protect workers, invest in mental health services, and rebuild Virginia’s thriving network of small businesses, particularly Black and Brown-owned businesses.
To read more about Terry’s big, bold plans for Virginia’s future, visit www.TerryMcAuliffe.com.