Editorial: Restoring Rights

The debate over Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s effort to restore the voting rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons by fiat reached its proper conclusion last week in the chamber of the Supreme Court of Virginia, albeit in a ruling divided along party lines.

It was a sloppily executed overreach, made worse by the refusal to disclose to the public who benefited from the action.

However, that should not be the end of the conversation. The governor’s action puts a spotlight on a valid concern: How hard should it be for a now law-abiding resident who has paid his or her debt to society following a felony conviction to regain the rights of citizenship? As more states move to a virtually automatic system of restoration, Virginia’s requirement of petitioning the governor looks increasingly archaic.

Whether there is merit in changing Virginia’s roadmap for a return to full citizenship is a question the General Assembly should tackle.

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