RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A legislative effort to automatically restore voting rights to people with felony convictions once they are free has cleared a hurdle in the Virginia Senate, but its fate will depend on the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.
A proposed constitutional amendment from state Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) passed the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee Tuesday along party lines. The General Assembly approved the amendment last year, but it will require a second vote in the legislature in 2022 in order to amend the state constitution.
In Virginia, those who are convicted of a felony automatically lose their right to vote. When the measure was first introduced, it called for restoring incarcerated people’s right to vote before their sentences were complete.
The proposal will need to go through the full Senate, which Democrats control 21-19, and the House of Delegates, which Republicans now control with a 52-48 majority. With Republicans voting against the amendment, Democrats have expressed concern over the future of the measure.
But a Republican, Del. Mike Cherry (R-Colonial Heights), has introduced the measure in the House. If the proposal is approved, voters will have the ultimate say on if changes come to the constitution with a referendum on the ballot for the November elections.
This story is developing.