By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
PURCELLVILLE, Va. — Gov. Terry McAuliffe remains silent on whether he will automatically restore voting rights to non-violent felons.
After two house bills (HB 7 and HB 556 ) that would have implemented automatic restoration of rights were killed Monday, the governor remains the only authority able to restore voting rights to felons under current law.
Despite campaign promises, McAuliffe has made no formal announcement about whether or not he will continue the automated process that former Gov. Bob McDonnell set up in the final months of his administration.
The restoration of rights webpage on the governor’s website hasn’t been updated since McAuliffe took office, and the hotline goes unanswered.
Advocates remain hopeful despite the governor’s silence.
“All indications from his new administration and the new secretary of the commonwealth is that they will continue doing what McDonnell has done,” said Hope Amezquita, legislative council and staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.
“Hopefully this governor finds enough support to issue an executive order to automatically restore the rights of the other 350,000 (disenfranchised felons),” she said.
According to the ACLU, there are many Virginian’s still disenfranchised despite McDonnell’s advancements with rights restoration policy due to strict requirements.
The ACLU wants the governor to stop requiring felons to pay all fines and fees before they can be restored automatically. Additionally, they hope that McAuliffe will allow former felons with drug charges to be considered non-violent and eligible for automatic restoration.
“Most drug crimes in the criminal section of the code are treated as non-violent crimes, yet (for automatic restoration purposes) they are considered violent and ineligible for automated rights,” Amezquita said.
Despite multiple attempts to contact the governor’s office, Watchdog.org got no response from McAuliffe’s administration.