Virginia Ditches Civil War-Era Rule, Lets Felons Vote
Gov. Terry McAuliffe restoring rights to felons
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2016 11:44 AM CDT
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(Newser) – Since the Civil War, convicted felons in Virginia have been stripped of their right to vote. That will change Friday as Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs an executive order restoring the voting rights of some 206,000 nonviolent and violent felons, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They'll also be able to serve on a jury and hold elective office. The order will apply to "any felon who has completed any term of incarceration and completed any period of supervised release, probation or parole, for any and all felony convictions." Previously, only nonviolent felons could have their rights restored, but they had to apply to do so after serving their sentence and waiting a period of several years.

An advocate calls it "the single most significant action on disenfranchisement that we've ever seen from a governor," per the New York Times. Felons will be able to register to vote immediately, and the Times sees that as a boon for McAuliffe ally Hillary Clinton, given that most of the felons are African-American, and most African-Americans vote Democratic. The state GOP accused the governor of "political opportunism."