In just four states are felons permanently barred from voting absent action by the governor. And in one of them, Virginia, lawmakers are considering an even more restrictive regime that would forever foreclose the possibility of redemption for tens of thousands of citizens.
For this essentially racist project, Virginians can credit the ethically challenged majority leader of Virginia’s state Senate, Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City). He filed legislation last week that would bar people convicted of violent felonies, in Virginia disproportionately African Americans, from ever having their voting rights restored.
It’s impossible to say precisely which offenses would trigger permanent disenfranchisement under Mr. Norment’s proposed constitutional amendment, which would leave it to the GOP-dominated legislature to define violent felonies. However, they might easily include categories of assault or drug crimes that might earn a young convict a few years in prison, followed by a lifetime banned from the voting booth.