Breaking: Voting Rights Restored For 200,000 Felons In Virginia

Governor Terry McAuliffe’s sweeping order restoring voting rights to convicted felons in Virginia just overturned a Civil War-era practice that was designed, he said, to suppress the African American vote.

From The Virginian-Pilot:

“The Democrat said his actions would help undo Virginia’s long history of trying to suppress the black vote.

‘Too often in both our distant and recent history, politicians have used their authority to restrict people’s ability to participate in our democracy,’ McAuliffe said in a statement. ‘Today we are reversing that disturbing trend and restoring the rights of more than 200,000 of our fellow Virginians, who work, raise families and pay taxes in every corner of our Commonwealth.’”

McAuliffe’s actions come one day after Hillary Clinton called for a federal effort to restore voting rights to all felons.

This is the latest in a bipartisan effort to reform our criminal justice system.

Republicans only want to go so far with reform, though. And a lot of their interest in reform seems to end with making it easier for African Americans to vote. The GOP has already pounced on McAuliffe, saying that the move was merely designed to help Clinton win a swing state.

But McAuliffe has long made restoring voting rights a priority of his administration.

“Mr. McAuliffe, who took office in 2014 and campaigned to restore voting rights to felons, said that he viewed disenfranchisement as ‘a remnant of the poll tax’ and that he had been ‘trying to figure out what more I can possibly do.’ He has been working with his legal team for months to live up to his campaign promise.”

The New York Times says there’s more to come:

“His action Friday will not apply to felons released in the future; the governor’s aides say Mr. McAuliffe intends to issue similar orders on a monthly basis to cover more people as they are released.”

You can almost hear the Republican heads exploding now.


Featured image via Twitter.

Ellen Brodsky is a long time blogger for and a contributor to Crooks and Liars. She has also worked as a researcher for Brave New Films' landmark documentary, "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" and "Iraq for Sale."