Virginia Law Makes Voting Easier for Former Prisoners

Photo by Ariel Skelley
Felons who have been released from prison were previously required to pay outstanding court fees before they were able to re-register to vote

Former prisoners in Virginia have one less barrier to overcome when it comes to voting.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced yesterday that the state would be abolishing a rule that required the felons to pay outstanding court fees before they would be allowed to register to vote once they were released. Various civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had been calling for the change, calling the current requirement a modern-day poll tax. Under the new regulations, ex-prisoners—the majority of whom are Black—will still be required to pay the fees, but, if unable to do so, they won't be barred from voting.

Related: President Obama Grants Clemency to 22 Prisoners

McAuliffe's announcement yesterday will automatically reinstate voting rights to more than 8,000 individuals throughout the state.

"These changes move the Commonwealth forward at a time when voter participation is particularly important to the future ecumenic prosperity of our minority communities," State Sen. Mamie Locke (D) said in a statement.

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