Some 10,000 West Virginians will continue to be denied the right to vote after political squabbling at the Capitol led to SB 488 failing to pass.
The bill would have restored voting rights to West Virginians who are on parole and/or probation. Twenty-two states – including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia – already allow people to vote while on community supervision.
“These West Virginians have served their sentence behind bars,” said Greg Whittington, ACLU-WV Criminal Law Reform Director. “They pay their taxes and give back to their communities. Denying them the right to be heard at the ballot box is nothing more than taxation without representation.”
Wednesday was an important deadline. Bills had to be passed out of their house of origin by that date in order to be passed into law. Despite having broad bipartisan support and being advanced to the full Senate, SB 488 was kept off the agenda due to an unrelated political dispute.
“It is deeply frustrating that thousands of people will have their basic rights denied because of bickering between politicians,” said Eli Baumwell, ACLU-WV advocacy specialist. “West Virginians deserve better from those representing them in Charleston.”