July 8, 2016 News & Press Releases · Press Releases and Announcements

​Journalists Continue to Reject Virginia Republicans’ Campaign of Fear over Restoration of Rights

by Democratic Party of Virginia

This week, journalists across the region ripped Virginia Republicans for spreading misinformation and fear in an attempt to undo Governor McAuliffe’s historic executive action. The publications agree that Governor McAuliffe has the moral authority and the legal authority to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 Virginians.
See for yourself:

Scaremongering over voting rights restoration in Virginia – Washington Post Editorial Board

The mistakes in the list are now fodder for a legal challenge led by Republicans, set to be heard in the state Supreme Court this month, as well as scaremongering by GOP operatives warning that murderers and rapists will flood the polls and dominate juries in criminal trials. This is false.

It seems far-fetched to imagine that the legal challenge will succeed. The state Supreme Court would have to concoct a constitutional interpretation without grounding in actual language and accept the premise that administrative errors somehow negate the governor’s authority.

Roger Chesley: Republican Party fights voters, instead of fighting for them – The Virginian-Pilot

There’s no moral equivalence between the two sides on this issue. Let’s count the ways:

  • Under the state constitution, Virginia remains one of a precious few states that don’t restore voting and other civil rights automatically to ex-felons. Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, said the commonwealth is among the most restrictive, along with Kentucky, Florida and Iowa. Why hold on to such a punitive stance?

  • In states that do restore rights, there’s usually no line of demarcation between “violent” and “nonviolent” offenses, Mauer told me: “The day you get out of prison or parole, it’s automatic.”

  • Republicans, including Howell and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, have said legislative leaders should play a role in such a sweeping change. Such claims must make the late state Sen. Yvonne Miller roll in her grave. The Norfolk Democrat, among others, repeatedly tried to amend the constitution. Those efforts almost always failed in the House of Delegates. Members wanted no part in changing the constitution’s antiquated system, which was rooted in denying African Americans the right to vote after Reconstruction.

  • What about the will of everyday Virginians? Two polls this year have shown citizens in the commonwealth want change. In January, the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University reported that 69 percent of Virginia voters support automatic restoration of rights for nonviolent felons. In June, Public Policy Polling said 65 percent of voters support McAuliffe’s executive order; 26 percent opposed it.

… Republicans should fight for their votes – instead of fighting their ability to vote.