The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, yet it’s not guaranteed for all Virginians. The 1902 constitution was purposefully created to keep Black people from the ballot box. Even today, our constitution takes away the right to vote forever from people who have committed a felony but have served their time and who have returned to their communities. This law is still working as intended, meaning that one out of seven Black Virginians doesn’t have the right to vote. People who have served their sentences and paid taxes deserve a chance to choose the people who represent them. It’s time for a change and it’s time for a second chance.
Lawmakers can bring us a step closer to righting this wrong by voting a second time to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote for all Virginians 18 and over who are not serving time for a felony conviction – just as it was passed during the 2021 General Assembly. Passing the amendment places the responsibility for this important decision where it should be – with Virginia’s voters during the 2022 elections. Recent polling conducted by the Beacon Research Group showed that 65% of Virginians believe that once a person has served their time, they should have the right to vote. Our democracy is stronger when more people are allowed to participate in it.