RELEASE: February 11th, 2021
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FAIRFAX, VA – Sean Perryman called for a constitutional amendment to extend voting rights to both formerly and currently incarcerated Virginians on Thursday in a new editorial piece in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. This comes as the Commonwealth has the opportunity to restore felon voting rights in its current legislative session.
“While many Democrats in the General Assembly have rightfully pushed for the restoration of voting rights to ex-felons, the legislation still on the table falls short of extending the right to vote to all Virginians who are disenfranchised by our constitution,” said Perryman. “Senator Mamie Locke introduced a full-restoration measure, but the legislation was substituted with a version that again excludes incarcerated Virginians.”
“Ensuring that the right to vote is truly unalienable is a racial justice issue. Felony disenfranchisement is a relic of a disgraceful era in Virginia, where white political and economic power was maintained by any means necessary. The policy of disenfranchisement ensured that people of color who were caught in the sham justice systems of the Jim Crow South were unable to challenge injustice through the democratic process. Today we still see a prison-industrial complex that targets Black and brown people, disproportionately revoking their right to vote.”
“There’s been an obvious racial reckoning over the past year in our country and in Virginia. There’s a reason that Virginia is moving to abolish the death penalty, legalize cannabis, and end mandatory minimums. We recognize these as tools of racial injustice and mass incarceration. It’s easy to see how felony disenfranchisement is yet another part of that systemic injustice that needs to be upended. We are leaving those who live at the complete mercy of the state without one of the best tools we have to hold the state accountable.”
“This is not a radical idea. In developed nations like Canada, South Africa, and many European countries, as well as in Vermont and Maine, one’s voting rights are not a question of their felon status. The right to vote should be a guarantee in the Commonwealth of Virginia that can’t be taken away based on the mistakes you’ve made, or worse, the color of your skin.”
Sean Perryman is President Emeritus of the Fairfax County Chapter of the NAACP, a technology public policy advocate, attorney, and former congressional investigator. If elected he would become one of the youngest Lt. Governors in Virginia history.
To learn more visit: perrymanforvirginia.com