Felons would have to outline their "contributions to society since their release" in an essay, a highly subjective process that some say "may prevent poor, less-educated or minority residents from being allowed to vote." (Washington Post)
In Virginia, those convicted of a felony automatically lose their right to vote. Virginia is one of only 2 states (Kentucky is the other) that permanently and automatically disenfranchise ex-felons. Governors, however, have the power to re-enfranchise felons who request their voting rights restored. One of the platforms that Governor McDonnell ran on was to expedite this lengthy application process to no more than 90 days.
Currently, over 300,000 Virginia citizens are estimated to be disenfranchised because of a past criminal conviction - over half of which are black (by contrast, the population of Virginia is only 20% black). The current application process to get voting rights restored is lengthy, with a 6-page application with 3 letters of reference for those convicted of a violent crime, and applications can be denied for any reason. Civil rights groups and legislators are protesting the addition of another roadblock for those convicted of a crime in getting back their right to vote.
Read the Advancement Project's report on the history of Virginia's disenfranchisement laws, enacted as a way to bar African-Americans from the polls.