The Virginia State Constitution: A Reference Guide

By John Dinan | Go to book overview
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Article II
Franchise and Officers

The issues addressed in this article, particularly regarding the suffrage and basis of apportionment, have been among the most contentious in Virginia constitutional development. In fact, a number of constitutional conventions were called for the primary purpose of debating the extent of the suffrage or the basis of apportionment. The Conventions of 1829-30 and 1850-51 were called primarily because the West sought to move toward a population basis for legislative apportionment as well as white manhood suffrage. The Convention of 1867-68 was called, in large part, for the purpose of permitting African Americans to exercise the suffrage; additionally, the most controversial act taken by the convention was the approval of a clause that would have denied the suffrage to individuals who had supported the Confederate government in various ways. The Convention of 1901-02, meanwhile, had as its dominant purpose the disenfranchisement of African Americans. Finally, the Limited Convention of 1945 was called for the sole purpose of ensuring that constitutional poll-tax and registration requirements would not prevent members of the armed forces from voting in that year's state elections.


SECTION 1. QUALIFICATIONS OF VOTERS

In elections by the people, the qualifications of voters shall be as follows:
Each voter shall be a citizen of the United States, shall be eighteen years of
age, shall fulfill the residence requirements set forth in this section, and shall
be registered to vote pursuant to this article. No person who has been con-
victed of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been
restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority. As prescribed by law,
no person adjudicated to be mentally incompetent shall be qualified to vote
until his competency has been reestablished.

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