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Virginia: Governor and civil rights groups pushing felons' voting restoration

The Washington Post reports: Civic and social organizations are teaming with Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to try to add thousands of nonviolent offenders to the voting rolls in time for the November election, a move that has angered Republicans who say the effort is designed to help Democratic Sen. Barack Obama s presidential campaign.

Under Virginia s constitution, people convicted of a felony automatically lose their right to vote for life, which has resulted in an estimated 300,000 residents being disenfranchised, even though they are not in prison.

But a Virginia governor can restore a felon s voting rights. Under a process set up by former governor Mark R. Warner D , felons convicted of nonviolent crimes can apply to have their voting rights restored if they have a clean record for three years after their sentence has been completed. People convicted of violent felonies, which in Virginia includes selling drugs, have to wait five years.

Earlier this year, Kaine D promised that his administration would expedite a review of applications from nonviolent felons who submit their papers by Aug. 1. -- Groups Push to Restore Va. Felons Voting Rights - washingtonpost.com

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