On March 16, 2021, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam restored the civil rights of more than 69,000 Virginians.
To determine eligibility for rights restoration, Northam used the same eligibility criteria encompassed in a proposed change to the Constitution of Virginia, which, if passed, would automatically restore voting rights to individuals upon completion of their incarceration. Northam announced that going forward, any Virginian who is released from incarceration will qualify to have their rights restored. However, this does not apply to the restoration of rights related to firearms.
Current Virginia law states that anyone convicted of a felony loses their civil rights to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, become a public notary, and carry a firearm. According to Virginia’s Constitution, the governor has the sole discretion to restore all civil rights, other than firearm rights, which must be restored through the courts. The 2021 General Assembly voted to amend this provision, in line with Northam’s actions, but it must be voted on again in 2022, followed by a voter referendum.
For more information about this important change, visit the Virginia Governor website.