The voting rights of felons are complicated. Most people assume that if you are a felon, you can’t vote. That’s not exactly true. And Virginia’s Governor, Terry McAuliffe, is hoping to capitalize on the confusion to add more Democrats to the voting rolls.
10 states restrict felons’ rights to vote. 20 states, including Virginia, will restore rights after the term of incarceration, the parole, and the probation has been served. 4 other states will allow felons on probation to vote, and 14 others will allow them to vote after they’re released from prison. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, will allow felons in jail to vote (by absentee ballot).
McAuliffe has restored rights to 13,000 felons “on a case-by-case basis after Republicans and state Supreme Court justices last month stopped his more sweeping clemency effort.” He plans on adding 2,000 more voters before the election in November.
The Governor McAuliffe is essentially thwarting a system that prevents felons who are still on parole from casting ballots, and is doing so in defiance of a court order that prevented his blanket rights restoration (done by executive-order) back in April.
From The Washington Post:
McAuliffe’s planned action, confirmed by two people with knowledge of it, comes about a month after the Supreme Court of Virginia invalidated an executive order the Democratic governor issued in April. With that order, McAuliffe restored voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who had completed their sentences.
McAuliffe said his original order would move Virginia away from a harsh lifetime disenfranchisement policy that hits African Americans particularly hard.
Republicans, incensed that it covered violent and nonviolent offenders alike, said the move was really a bid to add Democrat-friendly voters to the rolls ahead of November’s presidential elections, when the governor’s close friend and political ally, Hillary Clinton, will be on the ballot.
Republicans also found the McAuliffe administration had mistakenly restored rights to 132 sex offenders still in custody and to several convicted murderers on probation in other states.
Despite his “case-by-case” review, the Post found evidence that the Governor had restored the voting rights of a “noncitizen sex offender in Peru.”