McAuliffe: Restoring Voting Rights Lets Felons 'Feel Good About Themselves Again'

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he issued an executive order to extend voting rights to felons in part to "let them feel good about themselves again."

McAuliffe ordered Friday that 206,000 felons who had completed their sentences including parole or probation by that date immediately regain the right to register to vote, run for office, serve on a jury and serve as a notary public. He plans to repeat the order monthly to account for felons who finish their time in the future.

The governor told MSNBC that he's been "systematically" working on the order "since the day I stepped into office when I came into office January 2014" and restored the voting rights of 18,000 felons before Friday.

"Ten yards from where I spoke is where Abraham Lincoln addressed the freed slaves 151 years ago this month," McAuliffe said. "We have to end this process of disenfranchising folks. So, I used my authority, which I have, legal authority and the moral authority, today to restore the rights of 206,000 felons who... have served their time. They are done with probation. They are done with parole. They are free citizens."

"They live in their communities. They work. They have families. Let's make them full citizens of our commonwealth. Let's let them vote again. Let's let them feel good about themselves again. We have got to stop this disenfranchisement."