RICHMOND, Va.—Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that he will automatically grant, on an individualized basis, voting rights to people with nonviolent felony offenses upon completion of all the terms of their sentence.

“As Americans we believe in second chances and we believe in the right to vote,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP. “We commend Gov. McDonnell for his courageous leadership to restore the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of Virginians. This is a great step for Virginia and we look forward to working with the Commonwealth and our state conference on expanding the vote. Anyone who has made a mistake, done their time and paid their debt to society should be able to join their neighbors at the voting booth.”

“This year our elected officials are bringing the issue of felony disenfranchisement to the forefront and Gov. McDonnell has taken the lead,” Rev. Nathaniel Young, president of the NAACP Virginia State Conference. “Today’s changes are a testament to the years of hard work the NAACP and other leading advocacy groups have put into ridding the state of a century-old policy that has disenfranchised too many of our citizens. This is a step in the right direction for Virginia.”

“Restoring the votes of citizens who made a mistake and paid their debt to society is the right thing to do,” stated Jotaka Eaddy, senior director for Voting Rights at the NAACP. “This is a major step in the right direction for Virginia. Moving forward, we will continue to ensure that all citizens returning to society in the Commonwealth and across the country can exercise their right to vote.”