Restoration of Rights
On August 22, 2016, Governor McAuliffe announced the process he will use moving forward to restore rights to individuals. Individuals seeking restoration of their civil rights are encouraged to contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.
After a thorough review process, Governor McAuliffe will direct the Secretary’s office to process the restoration paperwork for each individual that meet his criteria for restoration. For the citizens who have not contacted the office, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will also be systematically identifying individuals who meet the criteria for the Governor’s consideration. Once the Governor has restored rights to an individual, a personalized restoration order will be mailed to him/her.
Supreme Court’s Decision
On July 22, 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Executive Orders issued by Governor Terence R. McAuliffe on April 22, 2016, May 31, 2016, and June 24, 2016, restoring the civil rights to more than 200,000 Virginians, were unconstitutional. The court directed the Secretary of the Commonwealth to delete from the records any individuals who had their rights restored under these orders, and for the Department of Elections to cancel the voter registration of any individual who had been restored under these orders.
As a result of the Supreme Court decision, if your rights were restored on April 22, May 31 or June 24, your rights have been revoked. Click here to request your rights be re-restored by the Governor.
If your rights were restored any time prior to April 22, 2016, your rights were not affected by the Court’s decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
Was I affected by the Supreme Court's decision?
If your rights were restored between April 22 and July 22, 2016, they have been revoked by a Supreme Court decision. If you would like to have your rights restored, contact our office.
If your rights were restored any time before April 22, 2016, you have not been affected by the Court's opinion and the status of your civil rights has not changed.
You can check the status of your civil rights restoration here.
Governor McAuliffe and the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office remain committed to restoring the rights of individuals who have completed their sentences.
If you would like to have your rights restored, please contact our office.
The Secretary of the Commonwealth's office will also be identifying individuals who meet the Governor's standards for rights restoration, even if he or she does not contact our office. After a thorough review process, Governor McAuliffe will direct the Secretary’s office to move forward in restoring the rights of individuals that meet his criteria for restoration. Once the Governor has restored rights to an individual, a personalized restoration order will be mailed to him/her.
The review process usually takes 2-3 weeks after an individual has contacted the office requesting restoration of rights. Click here to contact the office and request your rights be restored.
If your rights were restored between April 22 and July 22, they have been revoked as a result of the Supreme Court opinion and your voter registration has been cancelled. You will need to have your rights restored again before you can re-register to vote.
If your rights have been restored again after August 10, you will need to register to vote again. You can register to vote at http://elections.virginia.gov/ or in person at your local registrar’s office.
Questions related to gun rights should be addressed to your local Circuit Court.
I want to have my rights restored
It is helpful for you to contact our office, but it is not necessary. You can let us know you'd like to have your rights restored by clicking here.
The Secretary of the Commonwealth's office will also be identifying individuals who meet the Governor's standards for rights restoration, even if they don't contact our office.
Governor McAuliffe will consider restoration of rights for any individuals that have finished any term of supervision and any term of supervised release (including supervised probation or parole).
The Restoration of Rights office will prepare a personalized restoration order for each individual who has his/her rights restored. The order will be mailed to the individual.
Individuals can check their status on the Secretary of Commonwealth's website.
Please contact our office at 804-692-0104
Your rights can be restored by the Governor of Virginia. Click here to contact our office to have your rights restored.
The Governor does not have the authority to restore firearms rights. Contact your local circuit court for information about restoration of firearms rights.
Noncitizens are not eligible to vote, serve on a jury or run for office, but may be eligible to serve as a notary public. Contact our office at 804-692-0104 to have your rights restored.
Anyone convicted of a felony in Virginia automatically loses their civil rights - the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, become a notary public and carry a firearm. The Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the sole discretion to restore civil rights, not including firearm rights.
Have my rights been restored?
You can click here to see if your civil rights have been restored by the Governor.
Ready to vote?
If you have had your rights restored, please visit http://elections.virginia.gov/ to register to vote.
You can also find information about the upcoming election, including what’s on your ballot.
Editorial Boards Continue to Support Governor McAuliffe’s Restoration of Rights Order
Editorial pages from across the country continue to voice support for Governor McAuliffe’s efforts to restore voting and civil rights to Virginians who have completed their sentences. As the pieces linked below note, Governor McAuliffe’s action is within his constitutional authority and represents a positive step away from Virginia’s dark history of disenfranchisement.
Augusta Free Press:
Ken Plum: Clinging to the past
"At the same time that the nation is moving forward with a major political party nominating a woman as candidate for the presidency of the United States, Virginia institutions are clinging to past traditions that should have been abandoned decades ago."
Virginia’s voting rights debacle
"THE VIRGINIA Supreme Court ruling that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) overstepped his powers in restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons who have completed their sentences is a model of pretzel-twisted reasoning that glosses over the plain language of the state’s constitution and elides recent state history to arrive at a conclusion whose effects are as heedless of national trends as they are racially retrograde."
New York Times:
Virginia’s Century-Old Mentality on Race
"The poorly reasoned ruling — which holds that the governor can legally restore voting rights only on a case-by-case basis — has no legitimate basis in the state Constitution. To his credit, Mr. McAuliffe has vowed to reinstate voting rights to those Virginians even if it means signing the restoration orders one at a time."
Richard Cizik: Virginia should change course on rights restoration
"There is power in redemption for all of us. The citizens who have done their time and paid their debt to society deserve a voice in the country they salute. Lawmakers in Virginia and across the country still struggling with disenfranchisement should take note."
News & Advance:
When Debt to Society is Paid in Full, Restore Their Rights