Advancement Project National Office Celebrates Expansion of Voting Rights to Virginians on Probation and Parole
RICHMOND, Va. – Today, Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia will restore the voting rights of Virginians on probation and parole automatically upon the completion of their sentence of incarceration. The move restores the voting rights of 69,000 Virginians previously disenfranchised by a criminal conviction. Advancement Project National Office, a national racial justice organization released the following statement.
“We applaud the move in Virginia to expand access to the ballot box and ensure that the voices of returning citizens are no longer silenced. This is another step forward in ensuring that all Virginians have the fundamental right to vote,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office. “Extending the franchise to residents on parole and probation helps to unravel the Jim Crow legacy of felony disenfranchisement that disproportionately harms Black and Brown communities in Virginia. This step will now give voice and power to thousands of Virginians previously silenced by a criminal legal system aimed at limiting the political power of Black and Brown communities.
“We know that this progress is the result of the year-round work of voting rights advocates on the ground who have pushed for change. These same organizers were instrumental in engaging and assisting Virginia voters during an unprecedented global health pandemic during the 2020 election cycle. They also successfully advocated for historic voting rights legislation and are pushing for an affirmative right to vote to be included the state’s constitution. We recognize the work of our partners like New Virginia Majority in making this moment possible and persistently working to expand voting rights to the entire commonwealth.”
“Virginia’s work in 2021 is a model of voting rights expansion for states across the country,” said Jorge Vasquez, Power and Democracy Director for Advancement Project National Office. “Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement is the capstone of a successful legislative session in which advocates successfully passed the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, the most expansive piece of voting rights legislation in the South.”
“We know that the fight to ensure every resident has equal access to the ballot box continues,” said Dianis. “We urge the state of Virginia to take swift steps to ensure residents on probation and parole are registered ahead of Virginia’s statewide elections and educate those currently incarcerated who will be eligible to vote in 2021. We encourage other states to take similar steps to clear reentry barriers to voting and civic participation for those disenfranchised by criminal convictions.”
Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit www.advancementproject.org