NORFOLK, Va. – Governor McAuliffe announced Thursday that he has individually restored the rights of 156,000 Virginians.
This number is more than any governor in U.S. history, the governor’s office said.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist has restored the second most at 155,000.
“Expanding democracy in Virginia has been my proudest achievement during my time as Governor,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Over the course of the last year, I have had the privilege to meet with many of the men and women affected by this order, and their stories inspired us as we continued this fight against the hostile opponents of progress. The Virginians whose rights we have restored are our friends and neighbors. They are living in our communities, raising families, paying taxes, and sending their children to our schools. Restoring their voting rights once they have served their time does not pardon their crimes or restore their firearm rights, but it provides them with a meaningful second chance through full citizenship.”
The governor previously noted that the system he implemented puts Virginia in line with 40 other states.
The governor’s office did say that in order to fully realize automatic restoration, Virginia will need a constitutional amendment.
An amendment would require the consent of the Virginia General Assembly, where previous efforts have repeatedly failed.
Until such action takes place, Virginia’s next Governor will have the discretion to decide whether to continue Governor McAuliffe’s commonsense restoration process that expands access to democracy, the office said.