All Virginia voters will be asked to vote Yes or No on three proposed amendments to the state Constitution. A simple majority is required for adoption of each. Voter Registration
Question 1: "Shall the Constituion of Virginia be amended to change the information required to register to vote by deleting marital status and occupation and by including any prior legal name?"
Explanation: If approved, voters would no longer be required to give their marital status or occupation when registering. In addition, it would change the rule that requires only married women to give their maiden names by requiring all voters to give any legal name under which they have been known.
Proponents: Those in favor say the amendment would eliminate unnecessary personal information and apply the law equally to both sexes. It also would help avoid multiple registrations.
Opponents: There is no known opposition. Felons' Rights
Question 2: "Shall Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize restoration of civil rights to felons as may be provided by general law?"
Explanation: If approved, the amendment would allow the General Assembly to formulate a bill restoring the right to vote and hold public office to convicted felons who have been released from prison. Current law allows only the governor, if petitioned by the felon, to restore those civil rights.
Proponents: The current system is unnecessarily cumbersome, proponents say. In addition, they contend the system is unfair to those who have paid for their crimes by serving prison terms and to those who may not have the sophistication, knowledge or financial means to hire a lawyer to draw up a formal petition.
Opponents: It is not unreasonable to place the responsibility for regaining their rights on the felons, who by criminal acts, negated those rights, opponents say. Other critics contend the General Assembly should not be involved in matters that are the prerogative of the executive branch. Legislative Limits
Question 3: "Shall the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize the General Assembly to limit the introduction of legislation in the odd-year short session?"
Explanation: If passed, the General Assembly would determine by a simple majority of both chambers what types of legislation could be introduced in the 30-day short session. Not only would the amendment allow the Assembly to limit the number of bills and resolutions introduced in short sessions, it would allow the Assembly to limit the topics that could be covered.
Proponents: Under the 1970 revised state constitution, the legislature intended short sessions to be reserved for adjustments to the biennial budget or matters of overriding concern to the state. In recent years, however, legislators have used the odd-year sessions to reintroduce bills defeated in the previous session or legislation aimed at courting voters.
Although the session technically is limited to 30 days, it may be extended to 60, and because of the heavy volume of legislation in recent years, has generally run 40 to 50 days. Given current trends, proponents say, Virginia could be forced to a full-time legislature.
Opponents: The Fairfax Area League of Women Voters is campaigning hard against the amendment. "It's one of those things that looks good on the surface," said Leslie Byrne, league president. "But it cuts down on the representative nature of the General Assembly and leaves a lot of things the Assembly should be discussing in the hands of the governor."
Other opponents contend the proposal would allow the Assembly to block crucial bills or to avoid controversial topics some legislators would prefer to avoid in an election year. As Virginia becomes more urbanized, problems change from year to year and the legislature must be free to deal with them, opponents of the amendment say. Passage would constitute a backward step toward semiannual sessions.