Restoring the Right to Vote

by Peter Jetton

W&L Community Law Clinic at the Oliver Hill House

W&L Community Law Clinic at the Oliver Hill House

Monday’s Roanoke Times reported on the Voices for the Vote rally, organized by Total Action Against Poverty and other groups, challenging Virginia’s policy of permanently denying ex-felons the right to vote. Many states restore lost rights after a felon completes his or her sentence and related requirements such as restitution and probation. But in Virginia, only the Governor can restore the right to vote, and the ex-felon must complete a complex application for the Governor to even consider it. A 2000 survey found that there are over 400,000 ex-felons who are eligible to have their voting rights restored but who have not gone through the process.

This is where law faculty and students working at W&L’s Community Law Clinic in Roanoke come in. Law School representatives attended the rally to promote awareness about the application process and offer assistance to ex-felons in completing the forms and gathering the necessary supporting materials to ensure their application is approved. Operating out of the child-hood home of civil rights activist Oliver White Hill, the Community Law Clinic  offers a variety of legal services to low-income residents of the city and surrounding areas. In addition to voting rights work, the Clinic provides assistance with immigration issues and with estate planning for the elderly.

To learn more about the Clinic’s services and future projects, contact Howard Highland ’08L, the Clinic’s on-site fellow, at (540) 491-9302 or by email at

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