Restoring voting rights: State officials address issues, though challenges remain for registrars

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — State officials kept their word. They say data entry for all 206,000 convicted felons who’ve had their rights restored is complete, but registrars are still having problems with the system.

Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order on  April 22nd granting anyone who has been convicted of a felony and has completed their terms of incarceration to have their voting rights restored.

State officials say some of the problems are caused by their system, which requires an exact match of name, social security, and date of birth.

“We also had a situation with a gentleman whose first name was Jeffrey, but he was convicted using the name Jeff. He couldn’t find his status in the database because he was putting Jeffrey instead of Jeff. There situations like that where it does require an exact match,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth, Kelly Thomasson.

Initially, registrars were unable to verify rights due to a lag in data entry for all 206,000 people. Some say they’ve put more than 100 applicants on hold, but state officials say that problem is fixed.

“That list has been uploaded into the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s database. It has also now been uploaded to the department of elections database,” Thomasson added.

Kimberly Carter was the first to register to vote after Governor McAuliffe signed the order and says the issues are disappointing, but she’s grateful for the governor’s actions.

“I’m just very thankful he did what he did,” she said. “The governor, he put this in place, it is a long time coming. It gives hope. That is what it has done. It has opened doors. It gives hope and I’m just very grateful.”

According to Thomasson, registrars are forwarding the files of those who haven’t been able to successfully complete applications. Her office is verifying felons voting rights on a case-by-case basis. They’ are also asking for your patience as the process may take about two weeks.

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