Gov. Bob McDonnell and national NAACP director Ben Jealous said today their cooperation on the governor's rights restoration initiative is an example of how people of different political backgrounds can work together.
Jealous praised the governor for meeting quarterly with NAACP representatives, "each time finding common ground and ways to look forward."
McDonnell said streamlining the process for non-violent felons to win back their voting rights is a "justice issue. It affects people of all races, ages and social classes."
McDonnell and Jealous made their comments in a joint interview on CNN.
Jealous said there had been a "building movement" in Virginia to change the law, which was enacted during the racist politics of the turn of the 20th century "for the most horrible of reasons."
In working with McDonnell, Jealous said, "we realized on this issue of redemption we had common ground."
Under the plan announced Wednesday and taking effect July 15, the governor will automatically restore, on an individualized basis, civil rights to nonviolent felons who complete their sentences, probation and parole, have no pending felony charges and pay all court costs, fines and restitution.
Nonviolent felons will no longer have to wait two years to be eligible to have their rights restored, and will not have to apply for restoration.