Richmond registrar raises questions about petition signatures from former felons

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond registrar recently raised some questions that could cause huge headaches and have big implications for elections across the state.

Do signatures from former felons, whose rights were restored by the governor and subsequently taken away by a Supreme Court decision, count? And can candidates who have been certified, be de-certified?

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“It is unprecedented because we haven’t had a case where rights have been restored and then taken away by court order,” political analyst Richard Meagher said.

Richmond’s registrar has asked for guidance from the state board of elections and it’s likely the attorney general will have to weigh in.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch looked into the signatures of at least one Richmond mayoral candidate, Michelle Mosby, who faced challenges meeting requirements to make the city’s ballot. The paper found one signature, among the minimum 50 Mosby submitted from one district, was from a former felon and could potentially disqualify her from running.

“This is clearly a statewide problem,” Meagher said.

“It shows why when you’re doing campaigns you really want to try and get as many signatures as possible, way over the amount, because things can be thrown out,” Meagher said.

Meagher said the issue goes well beyond Richmond’s mayoral race.

With local elections across the state, invalidating those signatures could be an administrative nightmare for all local registrars.“This is clearly a statewide problem,” Meagher said.

Meanwhile, Richmond’s registrar says they have yet to hear back from the State Board of Elections or the Attorney General’s office about how to move forward.“It really creates a whole bunch of challenges for registrars to try and figure out the signature process, the candidate process, and then when the election approaches, who can vote and who can’t,” Meagher said.

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