13K Felons in Virginia Now Have Voting Rights

Governor is restoring rights case by case
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2016 12:45 AM CDT
Va. Gov. Restores Voting Rights for 13K Felons
Eric Branch, 49, shows off his restoration of rights papers signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Branch served over four years for breaking and entering and was released in April 1992.   (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's autopen has had a busy month. The Democrat announced Monday that he has signed papers restoring voting rights to 13,000 former felons, and he's working on restoring rights to up to 193,000 more, reports the Virginian-Pilot. McAuliffe signed an order in April restoring voting rights to 206,000 nonviolent and violent felons. After the Virginia Supreme Court struck the order down last month, McAuliffe vowed to restore rights case by case—starting with the 13,000 who had already registered to vote. The process uses "the clear authority the governor possesses to use his own discretion to restore rights of people who have served their time," he said Monday.

The move was denounced by Republicans who saw it as an effort to get more Democratic voters on the rolls in time for November. Donald Trump told a rally in Virginia Monday that the governor is "getting thousands of violent felons to the voting booth in an effort to cancel out the votes of both law enforcement and crime victims," reports the New York Times, which notes that Virginia is one of just four states to permanently strip felons of voting rights. A McAuliffe aide tells NBC News that the governor hopes to "restore as many Virginians' rights as expeditiously as possible," though he can't say how many more cases will have been dealt with by the Oct. 17 deadline for registering to vote. (Read more Virginia stories.)

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