Youngkin administration working to fix voter rolls

October 9, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration said this week, with early voting underway, that it is working to fix an issue that misclassified probation violations as felonies and has led to an unknown number of eligible Virginians being removed from the voter rolls.

State election officials are working with Virginia State Police to identify voters whose registration “may have been canceled in error” and begin the process of having those people reinstated, Andrea Gaines, a spokeswoman for the Department of Elections, said in a statement Wednesday.

“We are taking great care to identify each person affected and working to reinstate their registration immediately,” said Susan Beals, commissioner of the Department of Elections.

Gaines said that as part of the routine process of keeping an up-to-date voter list, the department receives a monthly file from Virginia State Police containing felony convictions.

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In Virginia, a felony conviction automatically results in the loss of a person’s civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for office and carry a firearm. The governor has the sole discretion to restore those civil rights, apart from firearm rights, which can be restored by a court.

The elections department, Gaines said, “was recently informed that these files received from VSP may contain probation violation convictions.”

The department asked state police to analyze their data to determine who may have been canceled in error.

“Once that data is received, ELECT will send those names to registrars” to have those voters’ registrations “reinstated immediately,” Gaines’ statement said.

Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for the Republican governor, said in an emailed statement that once Youngkin’s office “became aware of the inconsistencies regarding the misclassification of probation violations as felonies,” the governor asked state police to “correct the process” and ordered a review.

“The Governor is committed to ensuring those that are eligible can vote and those affected will have their registration reinstated,” Porter said.

VPM, which first covered the administration’s acknowledgement of the issue, previously reported on the case of an Arlington County man who was taken off the voter rolls for a probation violation before being reinstated by a judge. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia also said last week it had received “troubling reports” of Virginians having their voting rights revoked on the basis of technical probation violations, something it called “unprecedented and unconstitutional.”

It’s the second week of early voting in this year’s hotly contested legislative elections. Every General Assembly seat will be on the ballot in an election cycle that will determine party control of the Assembly, which is divided.

Virginia Democrats said the episode was alarming.

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