Last Friday Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order restoring the right to vote and run for office to 206,000 felons living in his state.
“This is the essence of our democracy and any effort to dilute that fundamental principle diminishes it, folks, for all of us,” McAuliffe said on the steps of Virginia’s Capitol, before a crowd of more than 100 people that included many felons
The state Republicans accused McAuliffe of political opportunism, saying that he simply did a favor for his friend Hillary Clinton by creating more voters for her in his state.
“I am stunned yet not at all surprised by the governor’s action,” House Speaker William J. Howell said in a statement. “This office has always been a stepping stone to a job in Hillary Clinton’s cabinet.”
McAuliffe fired back at Republicans on Sunday warning them to be careful about denying Americans their voting rights.
“Well, I would tell the Republicans, ‘Quit complaining and go out and earn these folks’ right to vote for you. Go out and talk to them,’ ” he said. “I think some of the language that has come out of the Republicans, I would tell them to be very careful at how they frame this, very careful of their rhetoric.”
McAuliffe’s executive order will not apply to felons released since this past Friday, but his aides have said that McAuliffe will be signing follow-up orders on a monthly basis to restore the voting rights to as many ex-felons who has served his debt to society as he can.
Nationally, there are approximately 6 million ex-felons who are denied the right to vote.
[richmond.com] [The Hill]