McDonnell's office says letters were sent to felons in error
As we reported this morning, Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration mistakenly sent letters to more than 200 felons telling them that they had to write a personal letter to the governor to get their voting rights restored.
The letters sent to felons said that, "as a new requirement," nonviolent offenders must provide a "personal letter to the Governor explaining the circumstances of your arrest and conviction." They were also told to detail their efforts to get a job, seek education, and participate in church and community activities, and why they think their rights should be restored. The governor's letter went on to say that failure to do so would result in applications being closed "with prejudice."
"The letter was sent without approval by a well-meaning staffer attempting to continue to process requests even while new procedures were being considered," McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said.
The McDonnell administration is still considering whether to require nonviolent felons to write letters.
"This seems like an odd way to make policy," said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. "But, we are delighted if the administration is serious about dropping the requirement for a lengthy personal letter to the Governor and look forward to a productive discussion with the Governor's office about improving the restoration procedure."
Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Polarek will meet with the ACLU, the NAACP and other groups that work with felons today to talk about changes the governor's office is making to the process.
We reported last weekend that McDonnell (R) will require the offenders to submit a letter to the governor outlining their contributions to society since their release, turning a nearly automatic process into a more subjective one that some say might prevent poor, less-educated or minority residents from being allowed to vote. McDonnell said he is working on revamping the system so felons can have a decision on whether their rights will be restored within 90 days.
April 14, 2010; 11:08 AM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell
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