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Legal efforts challenge Youngkin’s pace on rights restoration

After taking office on Jan. 15, 2022, Gov. Glenn Youngkin continued a policy of his predecessors by restoring voting rights to 3,496 Virginians formerly incarcerated for felonies.

Then, on May 20, 2022, he halted the practice, miring the voter restoration process for former felons in confusion and secrecy.

Only three states permanently disenfranchise everyone with past felony convictions from civil rights including serving on a jury or being a notary, but Virginia is the only state with a lifelong prohibition barring those convicted of a felony from voting. And while the Constitution of Virginia grants the governor unilateral authority to restore voting rights, Youngkin is the first to exercise seemingly arbitrary and opaque discretion to grant or deny individual applications, and on a timeline that — according to an email from Youngkin Freedom of Information Act officer Denise Burch — remains “protected by executive privilege.”


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