While Georgia lawmakers were enacting what some would call a regressive voting law last month, Virginia was creating landmark voting measures.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam restored voting rights to ex-felons, overriding the state’s constitutional mandate that permanently disenfranchises citizens with past felony convictions. He also approved the Voting Rights Act of Virginia. Virginia is the first state in the country to enact its own version of a voting rights act that protects against voter suppression, bias, and intimidation.
The new law is a sea change for this former symbol of the Old South, and attempts to revive a key federal provision stripped away eight years ago from the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That 50-year-old provision required nine southern states to get federal approval before changing voting rules.