In a nutshell:
McAuliffe’s restoration of voting rights will apply to former nonviolent and violent offenders. Anyone who has been convicted of a felony and has completed his sentence and been released from supervised probation or parole is eligible. The new voting rights apply to felons convicted in another state and living in Virginia.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe will allow more than 200,000 ex-cons in Virginia to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election, one of the biggest actions taken by a state to instantly restore voting rights.
The change applies to all felons who have completed their sentences and been released from supervised probation or parole. The Democratic governor’s decision particularly affects black residents of Virginia: 1 in 4 African Americans in the state has been permanently banned from voting because of laws restricting the rights of those with convictions.
“Once you have served your time and you’ve finished up your supervised parole. . .I want you back as a full citizen of the commonwealth,” McAuliffe said. “I want you to have a job. I want you paying taxes, and you can’t be a second-class citizen.”
The governor called the instant restoration of rights to these Virginians the natural next step to his incremental streamlining of a process that has already given 18,000 nonviolent felons their rights back. With the signing of Friday’s executive order, McAuliffe eliminated the need for an application for violent felons who had completed their sentences up to that moment.
Virginia Republicans howled over this decision.
Republicans were particularly outraged that the policy doesn’t take into account the violence of the crime, whether the person committed serial crimes, whether they’ve committed crimes since completing their sentence or whether they’ve paid their victims back for medical bills.
“Murder victims don’t get to sit on juries but now the man that killed them will,” said Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Albemarle), who is running for attorney general. “A murder victim won’t get to vote, but the man that killed them will.”
In reaction to criticism that the timing of the announcement helps Clinton’s campaign, McAuliffe denied that the move was politically motivated and said his administration has been working on it for six to eight months.
I have a very close friend this decision affects. His voting rights will be restored. In essence, his citizenship will be returned to him. For that I am very happy. There really is no correlation between crime and voting. Denial of voting rights really is overkill and is just another layer of making a person pay–for the rest of his or her life.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that former Gov. Bob McDonnell had worked tirelessly restoring voting rights also. McAuliffe just extended full rights to all who were “off paper.” (released from prison and not on supervised release or probation) What possible good does it do to have a person serve his or her time, repay the “debt to society” and be released without full citizenship? What does voting have to do with the crime? It has nothing to do with the crime nor does the severity of the crime have anything to do with voting.
I am almost willing to take it a step further and say that those convicted of a felony should have gun rights restored also. Those who are going to continue being thugs and bad asses can get a gun the afternoon they are released from prison. Illegally of course. But we know its easy for the bad guys to get the guns. Those who want to stay on the good side of the law are the people who have no means to protect themselves. They can’t buy weapons.
Why not just take those people and brand them with the scarlet F? Let’s do away with the term “felon.’ It is simply a pejorative label that hangs on someone until the day they die. Can a person ever get a second chance? It sure doesn’t sound like it. Why shouldn’t a former convict sit on a jury? That individual might have a lot more insight into the case than I would have. Once a person has served their time, they are through. Done. Let’s let them get back to living their lives, integrated into society.