May 27, 2016 News & Press Releases · Press Releases and Announcements

Virginia Republicans’ Voting Rights Lawsuit Condemned by State Leaders and Media

by Democratic Party of Virginia

Virginia Republicans, in an effort to preserve voter suppression, have filed a lawsuit to overturn Governor McAuliffe’s order to restore voting rights. A chorus of Virginia leaders, editorial boards, and columnists have spoken out against the action as both discriminatory and lacking a constitutional argument.
By attempting to strip away voting rights from hundreds of thousands of Virginians, Republicans are again showing their desire to make voting more difficult for the citizens of the Commonwealth. Virginians who have made mistakes, served their time and returned to their community should have the right to fully participate in their community. - Del. David Toscano, Leader of the House Democratic Caucus

Virginia Republicans are once again working to put barriers in front of people who are legally allowed to vote. This lawsuit is merely an attempt to undo the restoration of rights to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who have had their civil rights restored by the Governor using his power under the Constitution. This looks like another partisan fight where Republicans are trying to thwart Governor McAuliffe from doing his job.Del. Charniele Herring, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus


We stand with Governor McAuliffe by supporting the right to vote for those who have paid their debts to society, many of whom are African American. Virginia Republicans would rather sue than try to earn the support of new voters, and their true motivations are clear as they double down on efforts to preserve Jim Crow barriers to the polls. The hatred and demagoguery of the Party of Trump is at an all time high and as Virginia Republicans support the frontrunner, they must answer the question: Are we a society of second chances and redemption or are we not? Unfortunately, Virginia Republicans show no signs of letting up on their efforts to disenfranchise voters. - Evelyn Morris-Harris, Chair Democratic Black Caucus of Virginia

Since the election of President Obama in 2008, we have witnessed every scheme there is by Republicans to block voting rights," stated Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Chair of the Caucus. "Gerrymandering districts, voter identification laws, and blocking any effort at removing voting barriers and restrictions. Why not just try to earn the support of the new voters rather than demonize them? They have paid their debt to society. Are they supposed to pay forever? Do we not have a moral obligation to give second chances? – Virginia Legislative Black Caucus

This lawsuit is reminiscent of the bad old days of poll taxes, literacy tests and inane voter questions like how many bubbles in a bar of soap that were used to deprive people of their franchise. The right to vote is so fundamental that we should be doing everything we can to expand voting, not restrict it to a privileged few. – Virginia’s First Congressional District Democratic Committee Chairman Marc Broklawski
Today Republicans filed a lawsuit to preserve a policy of disenfranchisement that has been used intentionally to suppress the voices of qualified voters, particularly African Americans, for more than a century. These individuals have served their time and are now living, raising families and paying taxes in our communities – this suit is an effort to continue to treat them as second-class citizens. This legal action would also take Virginia out of the overwhelming majority of states that restore the rights of people who have served their time and completed supervised release. – Governor Terry McAuliffe
Today, blacks still represent a disproportionate number of convicted felons; accordingly, Mr. McAuliffe’s order benefits them disproportionately. It is a scandal that before he took action, more than a fifth of the state’s African Americans of voting age were barred from the voting booth on the basis of previous convictions, even though they had served their sentences in their entirety, including probation and parole time, and paid their debt to society. Stigmatizing ex-convicts indefinitely serves no social purpose; it achieves nothing beyond helping Republicans on Election Day, and that hardly justifies an archaic rule. – The Washington Post Editorial Board
A Virginia governor does have the obligation under the constitution to “communicate” to legislators the “particulars” of every reprieve or pardon “or punishment commuted, with his reasons for remitting, granting, or commuting the same.” But that’s not what the fight is about. The men and women to whom Gov. McAuliffe has restored rights already have served their sentences, and their parole, and their probation, and if they were granted a reprieve or a pardon or a commutation the governor already satisfied his obligation to communicate his decision in any individual case. – The Marshall Project