Analysis: Virginians Whose Voting Rights Have Been Restored Overwhelmingly Nonviolent, Completed Sentences More Than A Decade Ago
Today Governor Terry McAuliffe released a statistical analysis of demographic and other characteristics of the population of former Virginia felons whose rights the Governor restored with his historic April 22nd order.
The analysis reveals that the average time since release and completion of parole or probation is 11.1 years. The average age of this population is 45.9 years. Previous to his April 22nd order, Governor McAuliffe offered immediate restoration of rights to nonviolent felons and imposed a 3-year waiting period on any violent felons. According to this analysis, 93.4% of individuals covered by the April 22nd order would have been qualified before that date.
The analysis also notes that more than 79% of the people whose rights were restored were convicted of felonies that were nonviolent in nature. It also demonstrates that the Commonwealth’s previous policy of felony disenfranchisement fell disproportionately on African Americans. Black Virginians accounted for 45.9% of the disenfranchised population although the 2010 census data indicate that African Americans compose just 19.4% of the Commonwealth’s entire population.
Please see the graphics below for more information, and click here for interactive versions:
The analysis is based on 163,370 matches within the databases of the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Virginia Compensation Board. The data does not represent the entire list of 206,000 Virginians who are qualified under the order due to migrations to newer database systems, the most recent of which occurred between 2005 and 2008. A statistical analysis indicates that a sample size of more than 160,000 is a valid representation of the population covered by the Governor’s April 22nd order. The analysis is based on conservative estimates that are likely to understate the percentage of nonviolent offenses as well as the length of time since completion of sentence.
Most of the individuals who are known to be covered by the order, but do not appear in the population that is subject to this analysis were convicted and completed their sentences and supervised release before 2005 when the database systems were last updated. While the available data systems do not have easily searchable demographic information for these individuals, they are qualified under the Governor’s order because they are not currently in prison or jail or subject to supervised release.
The Governor’s April 22nd order offered a criteria-based restoration to any person who has served his or her time and completed any supervised release. In order to facilitate the administration of the order, the Commonwealth produced a list of people who are known to fit the Governor’s criteria, totaling just over 206,000.
The base of the list of 206,000 is the Virginia Department of Elections’ list of individuals who are barred from voting due to a felony conviction. That list was cross-referenced against Virginia public safety data to exclude every individual who is either still incarcerated or still subject to supervised release.
The final list of 206,000 is not all-encompassing of the population that is subject to the Governor’s order. It does not include federal data or information on people who were convicted in other states before completing their terms and moving to Virginia.
Additionally, any individuals whose records raise questions about their identities due to aliases, multiple similar entries or mistaken vital information (like Social Security numbers) have been withheld from the list. If any individual who does not appear on the list of 206,000 meets the criteria, their rights have been restored and they can contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth to have their status verified.