BALTIMORE, MD – NAACP President Cornell William Brooks today issued the following statement regarding Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring voting rights to ex-offenders:
“Most former offenders want to be respected as present citizens. The price of citizenship is voting. Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order enables ex-offenders to pay the price of citizenship – and in so doing both contribute to our democracy and redeem their dignity. The majority of people with criminal records would much rather be known for their record of voting.
“I applaud Governor McAuliffe’s courage in using his executive authority to give hundreds of thousands of Virginians an equal voice in the democratic process. Throughout the country, an estimated 5.8 million American citizens are prevented from participating in the voting process. We firmly believe in second chances and that citizens who have completed their sentences be allowed to exercise the constitutional right to vote.
“History shows when people are denied the right to vote, the loss of representation weakens our neighborhoods and communities, and furthers systemic inequality. As some states continue to erect barriers to voter registration, we hope more states follow Governor McAuliffe’s lead. Restoring voting rights to incarcerated individuals who have served their time is an imperative to a fair and just democracy while punitive measures only serve to further disenfranchise and isolate ex-offenders.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.