Americans for Prosperity, ACLU and Secure Democracy USA encourage restoration of voting eligibility to West Virginians
with past convictions
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On Thursday, Americans for Prosperity West Virginia, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Secure Democracy USA announced their support of two bills that would restore voting rights to individuals with past convictions. These politically diverse organizations are unified in their support of S.B. 488 and H.B. 4543 and submitted a letter to lawmakers urging the passage of these bills during the 2022 legislative session.
Read the full letter here (or below)
The legislation would restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals by eliminating restrictions on voting once an individual is released from incarceration through pardon, probation, parole, or completion of a sentence. If passed, West Virginia would join 21 other states—including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Indiana—in restoring voting eligibility to citizens with past convictions upon their release from prison.
“Current state law bars thousands of citizens from participating in our republic. S.B. 488 and H.B. 4543 would right that wrong by eliminating unnecessary restrictions on voting for West Virginians who’ve served their time and are reentering our society,” said Jason Huffman, West Virginia state director for Americans for Prosperity. “With strong support for this common sense policy from across the political spectrum, including support from law enforcement groups like International Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Probation and Parole Association, it’s clear: it’s time for West Virginia lawmakers to take action.”
“West Virginia intrinsically is known as a place of community, perseverance and pride. This legislation sends a message to West Virginians that have paid their debt to society, that they can reform and be active members in our communities.” said Dijon Stokes, advocacy specialist for the American Civil Liberties Union of WV. “With bipartisan support for this legislation, there is a pivotal opportunity for legislators to restore voting rights to thousands of justice-impacted people who are working and contributing to West Virginia’s Economy and Future.”
“Thousands of West Virginians are denied a voice in their community due to a prior conviction,” said Diego Echeverri, director of advocacy for Secure Democracy USA. “They’re proud citizens who pay their taxes, they’re veterans who got caught up in the criminal justice system and they’re victims of the opioid crisis that’s ravaged this state. Above all else, they’re West Virginians who’ve paid their debt to society—they deserve to have a say in it.”
Here is the letter:
On behalf of our respective activists and advocates across West Virginia, we encourage you to
support Senate Bill 488 and House Bill 4543, eliminating restrictions on voting rights for
formerly incarcerated individuals.
This crucial legislation will restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals by eliminating
restrictions on voting once an individual is released from incarceration through pardon, probation,
parole, or completion of a sentence.
The restoration of voting rights has strong, bipartisan support. Currently, 21 states, including Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Utah, restore voting eligibility for people with felony convictions upon their
release from prison. Ensuring people with past convictions can participate in our democracy in a
meaningful way is a foundational part of the rehabilitative process.
Research suggests that allowing formerly incarcerated individuals to vote can also reduce recidivism. A
study by the Florida Parole Commission found that people with felony convictions whose eligibility was
restored were three times less likely to commit new crimes. As a result, more and more law
enforcement, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Probation
and Parole Association, support voting restoration.
For these reasons, we ask you to support SB 488 and House Bill 4543 to ensure that individuals
who have served their debt to society are able to regain the fundamental right to participate in
our republic and, in doing so, are better empowered to successfully reenter society.
West Virginia State Director
Americans For Prosperity
ACLU of West Virginia
Diego A. Echeverri
Director of Advocacy
Secure Democracy USA