Plan Outlined for Nonviolent Virginia Felons to Get Voting Rights

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    It will be possible for thousands of nonviolent felons to regain their right to vote in Virginia after state officials outlined a plan on Monday.

    "For past offenders, our goal is to grant civil rights back to as many as possible," Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement.

    Up to 100,000 disenfranchised felons could have their names added to the voter registry, hold political office or serve on a jury.

    Virginia added four workers in the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office to help process requests and to locate others. The state plans to work with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to reach out to those eligible.

    The criteria for nonviolent offenders to retain their right to vote includes completion of their prison sentence, probation or parole; no outstanding fees, restitution or court costs; and no pending felony charges.

    Only the governor can restore voting rights to felonies in Virginia. McDonnell has already restored the rights to more than 5,000 felons.

    For the 500 to 700 felons released each month from Virginia prisons, the voting rights are to be automatically restored after the completion of their sentences.

    Felons convicted of violent crimes will have to continue to wait five years to apply to regain their voting rights.

    By giving convicted felons this opportunity to vote, McDonnell said, "we can better keep them from committing another crime and returning to prison."