RICHMOND, Va. — The pace of felons seeking to have their rights restored is picking up, with 1,577 choosing to do so under a new streamlined system that was put in place this past summer.

Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office said Thursday the civil rights of 6,874 Virginians have been restored during his nearly four years in office, topping any previous administration.

In July, McDonnell announced the individualized system of rights restoration for non-violent felons and eliminated a two-year waiting period.

McDonnell has supported the expansion of efforts to restore felons’ rights, calling redemption and second chances a “fundamental part of the American way.”

A nonviolent felon who has completed all court-ordered conditions can apply and be automatically approved. Eligible individuals must register with the secretary of the commonwealth by mail, email or phone to have their rights to vote, serve on a jury and work as a notary public restored.

Some 350,000 nonviolent felons are eligible to regain their civil rights.

The Free Lance-Star reported last month that fewer than 800 new registrations had been filed since the program’s start July 15.

While Secretary of the Commonwealth Janet Kelly said she was pleased with the number of rights granted, “there is more work to be done.”

Kelly said with new procedures and staff, the state has a better idea of where to focus its resources to ensure more felons have their rights restored.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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