Written by Alyssa Walker

Law students and faculty at one Virginia school have taken on the challenge of educating convicted felons about their voting rights.

At Virginia's College of William and Mary Law School, students are working with Revive My Vote, a program dedicated to helping convicted felons get their voting rights back.

The program started in 2013, strictly with volunteers.

It's extended to local law schools, too.

According to Williamsburg's local news station Wavy, third-year law student Jakob Stainaker said, "The great thing about what we do as an organization is it's non-partisan, so whatever the criteria are through the governor, we can help them do that.” 

The program's student director Zach McDonnell explains, "It’s honestly the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in law school. once you tell someone of their restored rights and they're registered to vote, some are so immensely happy."

Stainaker and McDonnell explain that those with convicted felonies are eligible only if they have completed supervised probation or parole. 

McDonnell says, "A lot of people don’t know what the process is, especially those who have been incarcerated at 18,19, 20. They didn’t vote then. They’ve been disenfranchised. They don’t know what the process is."

He adds, "Some people say they feel like a person again. For them it feels like they've turned the chapter on their felony conviction, they're out in their communities. They want to have a stake in it, but when they don't have their voting rights. It feels like they don't have that stake."

Check out Revive My Vote and learn more about law school. 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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