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The Constitution of Virginia declares that “no person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority.”

Governor McDonnell streamlined the current process in 2010 by declaring a restoration of rights decision within 60 days of the submitted application. “This is a must easier process under the McDonnell administration” says Rolling for Freedom Founder, Clovia “Miss Community” Lawrence.

Governor BobMcDonnell will hold a press conference today at 1:30 p.m. to make an announcement regarding restoration of rights in Virginia. The event will take place at Cedar Street Baptist Church of God in Richmond.

Governor McDonnell will announce that he will automatically restore the rights of nonviolent convicted felons on an individual basis. The nonviolent ex-offender must have paid all fines and then the governor will send a letter to the individual granting them their rights. The policy changes goes in effect on July 15, 2013.

Under the state’s constitution, the Governor cannot institute by executive order an automatic, self-executing restoration of rights for all convicted felons in the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, the Governor, may exercise his discretionary clemency power in a more expansive manner to restore civil rights on an individualized basis.


Cedar Street Baptist Church of God

2301 Cedar Street

Richmond, Virginia 23223

Who qualifies for restoration of rights?

If you have lost the right to vote as a result of a felony conviction in a Virginia court, a U.S. District or a military court, you must have your rights restored in order to qualify for voter registration. The restoration of rights restores the rights to vote, to run for and hold public office, to serve on juries and to serve as a notary public. It does not include the right to possess or transport any firearm or to carry a concealed weapon.

In order to be eligible for restoration of rights by the Governor, an applicant must:

  • Must be a resident of Virginia, and/or have been convicted of a felony in a Virginia court, a U.S. District court or a military court
  • be free from any sentence served or supervised probation and parole for a minimum of two years for a non-violent offense or five years for a violent felony or drug distribution, drug manufacturing offense, any crimes against a minor, or an election law offense.
  • have paid all court costs, fines, penalties and restitution and have no felony or misdemeanor charges pending. 
  • not have had a DWI in the five years immediately preceding the application. 
  • Not have any misdemeanor convictions and/or pending criminal charges 2  years preceding the application for non-violent felonies or five years for a violent felony or drug distribution, drug manufacturing offense,  any crimes against a minor, or an election law offense.

For information on requesting a copy of your criminal history record and criteria for restoration of rights, please visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

VA Governor McDonnell Announces Policy Change to the Restoration of Rights Process  was originally published on