Restore Our Vote
Restoration of Rights in Virginia
On June 23, 2015, the McAuliffe administration announced two new reforms to the restoration of rights process. First, outstanding court fines, fees, and restitution will NO longer prohibit an individual from having his or her rights restored. This does not remove the financial obligation to pay, but a person’s eligibility to have their rights restored is no longer conditioned on unpaid debt.
If you applied after January 2014 and your application was returned as ineligible due to an outstanding balance of court costs or fees, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will be reopening your file for consideration – you do not need to reapply at this time. If your file was determined to be ineligible prior to January 2014, you will need to submit a contact form again.
The second reform that was announced is that individuals that have had their rights restored can have a designation placed on their criminal record stating their civil rights have been restored.
Virginia is one of only four states in the nation to permanently disenfranchise its citizens convicted of a felony and boasts the second highest disenfranchisement rate in the nation! More than 450,000 Virginians are banned from voting for the rest of their lives due to a felony conviction—that’s nearly 7% of Virginia’s population! Over 350,000 disenfranchised Virginians have already completed their prison sentences and are living in the community, working, and paying taxes!
Worse yet, twenty percent of African-Americans in Virginia are permanently banned from voting. African-Americans and other minorities are disproportionately impacted by the law. Under the current law, their voting rights can only be restored by a discretionary act of the Governor.
How to Restore Your Rights
Non-Violent Felony Criteria:
- Have been convicted of a non-violent felony in a Virginia court or in a U.S. District Court
- Have completed serving the prison sentence and have been released from supervised probation or parole; and
- Have no pending felony charges
Two ways to request restoration of rights for non-violent offenses
- Complete the online request form on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website;
- Print and complete this form, then mail it to the Secretary of the Commonwealth at: Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth Restoration of Rights Division, P.O. Box 2454, Richmond, VA 23218
Additional information can be found on the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.
Violent Felony Criteria:
- Have been convicted of a violent or more serious felony in a Virginia court or a U.S. District Court
- Be free from any sentence served and/or supervised probation and parole for a minimum of three years.
- Not have any felony convictions in the three years immediately preceding the application and/or pending criminal charges.
Click here to see the list of more serious crimes which require an Application for Restoration of Rights.
If you have been convicted of a crime on this list, you must complete an application and mail it to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office (address listed above and below). You can download the Application for Restoration of Rights or you may call our office to request a form be mailed to you.
Virginians who have lost their civil rights will now be able to check the status of their rights restoration online at https://solutions.virginia.gov/RestorationOfRights/search.
The search requires first name, last name, date of birth and social security number. Only people with access to that information will be able to look up the status. Details on how to utilize this feature can be found at the Restoration of Rights page on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.
How to have your Restoration of Rights Shown on your Criminal Record
Once your civil rights have been restored by the Governor, you may have a notation added to your Virginia Criminal Record showing your Restoration of Rights.
To have such a statement added to your criminal record, you must submit a complete set of fingerprints, taken by a law enforcement agency on an “Applicant Fingerprint Card.” Click here for further instructions.
Need More Information or Have Questions?
Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Restoration of Rights Division
P.O. Box 2454
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 692-0104 or 1-855-575-9177
Virginia Voter Restoration Project
ACLU of Virginia
701 E. Franklin St., Ste. 1412
Learn more about felon disfranchisement in the United States: National ACLU
Get Informed: Briefing Paper on Felon Disenfranchisement in Virginia