Virginia GOP Races to Block Felons From Voting in November

Imagine the glee that political party leaders would feel in any state where they get the opportunity to sign up 206,000 new voters.

It’s happening in Virginia, and it is a gift from Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

His Virginia Democrats have mobilized all the usual suspects to sign up as many of these new voters as possible in time to vote for Hillary Clinton in November.

Virginia Republicans, on the other hand, have hired the highest-priced legal talent they could afford as the leadership of the Virginia House and Senate GOP prepares to fight McAuliffe’s April 22 order that allows more than 200,000 convicted felons to vote in November.

“The problem is with the violent offenders,” CBS-19 reported Del. Steven Landes (R) told an audience in Charlottesville, Va.

"We may have individuals coming out and having their rights restored, even though they have not paid their debts to society, which would be to the victims of their crimes, their serious crimes, or the courts costs and the like,” Landes added. “And that's just not fair.”

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck said the GOP doesn’t have a problem with allowing those who “have paid their debts to society” to vote.

“Mercy requires that we as Virginians be a Commonwealth of second chances. But there are limits,” Whitbeck said.

“Governor McAuliffe could easily have excluded those who have committed heinous acts of violence from this order, yet he chose not to," Whitbeck said. "His decision to issue a blanket restoration, without regard to the nature of the crimes committed, doesn’t speak of mercy. Rather, it speaks of political opportunism.”

McAuliffe’s office argued his April 22nd order was not a blanket restoration of voting rights. They asserted the order included a “criteria-based restoration." Virginia Department of Corrections officials then produced a list of people who were known to fit the governor’s criteria, totaling just over 206,000.

McAuliffe released a statistical analysis May 11 that he said proves 79 percent of the 200,000-plus felons that are going to be allowed to vote in November, assuming they register to vote, were nonviolent offenders who would have been allowed to vote, thanks to a previous executive order.

McAuliffe also said the numbers released by his office proved that Virginia’s previous policy of not letting felons vote “fell disproportionately on African-Americans.”

The study showed black Virginians accounted for 45.9 percent of the felons not allowed to vote, although the 2010 census data indicated that African-Americans compose just 19.4 percent of Virginia’s population.