More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.
In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.
Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.
With elections for every seat in Virginia's Legislature less than four weeks away, a coalition of progressive candidates is hoping to sway voters with the promise to push democracy reform.
In a letter being sent Thursday to every member of the General Assembly, 32 Democrats vying in November — about half with a realistic hope of winning — underscored their commitment to advancing an array of campaign finance and voting rights proposals if they get elected.
"We write to you today to put Richmond on notice. We are determined to reform the broken system and spark a restoration of confidence should we be granted the honor of serving our respective districts," they wrote.
Should the police station be the only polling place in a town with a black majority population, a white majority municipal government and a recent history of racial tensions in law enforcement?
The city council of Jonesboro, a rapidly gentrifying but still poor suburb south of Atlanta, has said "yes." Civil rights groups say the proper answer is "no."
The council said its decision in September to hold this year's local elections in the police station is because the usual polling location, a museum, is being renovated and city hall isn't big enough. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and five other groups that promote civil and voting rights this week urged the city to reverse itself or face a potential lawsuit in November for violating the Voting Rights Act.
Watch out, America. Russia apparently is planning to try the old bait and switch.
Having stirred worry across the United States with their documented efforts to try to hack the 2016 election, Russian operatives are expected in 2020 to face stronger and more secure election infrastructure — featuring fewer voting systems that can be penetrated and more paper records that can be used to check that vote totals are correct.
But, wait. According to CNN and other news outlets, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent a joint warning statement in the past few days to state election officials saying they think Russia may focus instead on voter suppression next November.