The paper analyses the laws of Virginia concerning the loss of the right to vote. The reasons for the loss of civil rights, as well as the process of restoration, vary depending on the crime classification. The loss of the right to vote is an adequate step for ensuring the elections are fair.
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The Loss of Right to Vote
The right to vote is one of the principles of civil rights in the United States. However, it can be lost as a result of a criminal offense. Virginia is one of the states that practice the cancellation of the right to vote, depending on the severity of a crime. While there are processes for its restoration, they differ by groups of a felony committed.
Reasons for Losing the Right to Vote
According to the guide prepared by the Advancement Project (2013), people convicted of a felony in the state of Virginia have four civil rights being taken away, which are the right to vote, the right to serve as a juror, the right to hold public office, and the right to serve as a notary public (4). The convictions are classified as violent and non-violent. Theft and unsafe driving are viewed as non-violent crimes, while murder and drug dealing are violent. Both types are the reason for the loss of the right to vote during the time of correctional supervision. The difference shows in the processes that begin after completing the sentence.
Process of Restoration
If there is a case of a non-violent crime, then a person must first wait until his or her sentence is over. It must also be ensured that all fines and fees regarding the conviction are fully paid. The process of restoring the right to vote will be automatic. The Secretary of the Commonwealth is the one responsible for the restoration. The amount of time for this process cannot be clearly identified, as the responsible department reviews several thousand cases, and the pressure increases during the registration prior to elections.
People convicted of crimes classified as violent have to undergo a more complex path. Commonly to the cases described above, they must wait until their sentence is over and ensure all fees are paid to the court and other parties identified by the judge. Moreover, they must wait five years after the completion of a sentence. During this time, they must not have any DWI or misdemeanor convictions, as well as any pending charges. If all these requirements are met, then a formerly charges a person is eligible for applying for the right voting restoration. The application process is complex and requires a lot of documents to be submitted. Some of these documents include personal and conviction information and reference letters from three people who are not related to the applicant and are not convicted of any felony. Papers stating particular achievements may also be attached to the application.
Thus, the right to vote restoration highly depends on the felony’s type. For instance, if the CEO in Virginia is sentenced to ten years in prison for financial fraud, it would be classified as a violent crime. This citizen will be eligible for restoring his right to vote after fifteen years from his first day in prison in the case if he does not break the law after his release and sends an application to the government. It is most likely that he will have his civil rights restored if he had valuable input in the community prior to his arrest.
I believe that the law of Virginia regarding civil rights is adequate. People in prison do not have possibilities to meet candidates or study their programs if there is an election campaign in the country. Thus, they cannot adequately choose the right person. Besides, they can be pressured in prison to vote for someone particularly. The five-year term after the sentence completion for violent crimes is also a good measure since it ensures the country will receive the vote of a responsible citizen.
Virginia’s laws concerning the restrictions of some of the civil rights is a required measure. While the methods of restoring the right to vote to differ depending on the case, all of them are easy to follow. The restoration of civil rights seems applicable to most of the former criminals.
Virginia civil rights restoration guide. (2013). Advancement Project. Web.