Felons Voice Feelings about Regaining Right to Vote

Apr 26, 2016

Virginia’s Governor made national headlines last week for restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons in the state. Critics say McAuliffe is misusing his powers as governor, to get close friend Hillary Clinton more votes in Virginia this November.

But how was McAuliffe’s announcement received among those it affects?

Credit Mallory Noe-Payne

  David Mosby of Richmond dealt cocaine, a couple of times, but his record has been clean for almost 15 years. He was present at the governor's signing of an executive order restoring Mosby’s right to vote.   “I always been kind of sad and down that I couldn’t ever vote and I never actually tried to get my rights restored because I was just dealing with everyday life -- trying to take care of myself and my family -- but now, it is a huge huge difference. And I will make a difference and I will go and vote," says Mosby. "[Voting] is going to be amazing, I’m probably going to cry -- I was up there shedding tears as the Governor was talking. So it’s going to be one amazing experience. For the first time.”

Mosby is 46, and hasn’t voted before -- that’s because in Virginia a felon has lost that right permanently, unless they apply for and get granted an exception by the Governor’s office.

Now, in a controversial move, the Governor has skipped that step altogether -- restoring the rights of all felons who have served their time and paid their fines. Meaning Mosby, and others like him, can walk into a DMV today, like anyone else, and register to vote.

Richmonder Mark Hill had previously tried to register via mail. He says, “This letter here told me, I was denied...'You are ineligible to register to vote for the following reasons:..' But I paid my dues. I did what I had to do, everything.”

Hill was convicted nearly a decade ago of cashing fake checks and grand larceny.  He served his time, and despite the crimes, says he still wants to vote. He says, “I was one of the votes that put Obama in office, I felt good about that," says Hill, "As for the General Assembly and stuff like that, I wanted to be a part of it, and I wanted to be a voice that’s heard.” 

When I asked Hill who he was planning on voting for, he said anyone but Donald Trump.