Virginia Governor Restores Voting Rights to Felons


Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia used his executive power on Friday to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons, circumventing the Republican-run legislature. The action overturns a Civil War-era provision in the state’s Constitution aimed, he said, at disenfranchising African-Americans.

“There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans — we should remedy it,” Mr. McAuliffe said in an interview Thursday, previewing the announcement he made on the steps of Virginia’s Capitol, just yards from where President Abraham Lincoln once addressed freed slaves. “We should do it as soon as we possibly can.”

There is no rational justification for depriving people of the most central right in a democratic republic. Good job, Virginia!


I see his argument did not apply to the right to bear arms (legal weapons possession) or the right to life (the death penalty). Not that Terry is a fan of the DP. Seems odd to selectively pick which Constitutionally protected rights you want to protect.


Don’t know about VA, but most states have ways for felons to get their civil rights back, including 2A rights. It usually involves filling out a form, showing proof of a steady job or community service, and some other things.


Neither is there a rational “right” to commit a felony. The consequences were well known before the crime.


No reason at all? Why not? Because of ideals?

I mean so the guy who thinks cars are free should be out there casting a vote along with the guys who actually do the work to buy them? One wants society to serve him. The other serves society. Why are they equal?

Sorry Siegehammer. But I think things that matter should be held to a higher standard. I think when everything from rats to elephants can vote it makes everything less important. Instead of making it better.

Peace Siege.



You do believe in the idea of people getting a second chance, right? This applies as far as I understand it, only to those who have completed their sentences and parole.

It’s particularly problematic when something like a fifth of VA’s African American population have been hitherto denied the right to vote not directly, of course, because of their race, but because of possessing a criminal record. While I’m not beyond a little cynicism as to the Governor’s motivation, I also think that those who have done their time, so to speak, deserve to be let back fully into the community (with, in a few cases, obvious marginal curtailments to the general freedom of some individuals). Penalising an entire group of people (felons) for something which we hope to be in their past (committing felonies), is entirely wrong.

No one is saying that serving prisoners be allowed to vote.


Job well done, Governor!


Oh. That’s a bit different. I guess I should’ve read deeper into this. Before saying anything. But then should the title of this thread be about restoring voting rights to Felons? Or should it be about restoring voting rights to former convicts?


Not saying I agree or disagree with the Governors decision, but I am not sure the consequences (not being allowed to vote) are that well known to everyone. But I am not sure either that at the time of the crime, that the felon was thinking about voting rights.

I always think it is interesting when voting changes/laws take place during an election year though. :rolleyes:


Ah well that’s a good point - though is such a person technically still a ‘felon’ (in VA anyway) because they have been convicted of a felony?

Kind of beside the point but actually I agree with you - had I not already read the story before I found this thread, I would have get to the same conclusion!


Thats part of the problem today, once someone commits a crime, even after they pay their debt to society, they are still held to their crime for their entire lives…this is wrong imo.

I think once 10 yrs has passed and the person has not committed any more crimes, their record should be cleared automatically. Why continue to punish a person even though they have paid their debt? At some point, they have to be brought back into regular society and stop being treated as criminals.


Right. One of the biggest reasons for recidivism is the lack of second chances for ex-cons. Many employers will not hire anyone who has been convicted of any felony, even if the felony being mentioned happened was nonviolent, occured when the excon was 18-20 years old, the entire debt to society (including parole) has been paid, and many years have passed.

Obviously, if the person committed a crime against children, he/she should not be allowed to be in a career that puts him/her close to children on a regular basis, nor should a person convicted of theft be in a position that requires regular handling of money - but this is actually not only prudent on the part of the company; it also helps the person avoid being tempted to make the same decision.

Many states do give back voting and jury rights to excons once their entire debt is paid; some require overt pardons from the governor to restore these rights. Some go half-way, allowing excons to vote, but not to hold public office without a pardon. Yet some states don’t even remove convictions from the record even if the conviction is overturned!

So, yes, we have to do a much better job at reintegrating into society those individuals who have paid their debts to society in full. Doing this only makes sense, and could easily be one cog in the system to reduce recidivism. Our prisons are overcrowded as it is; we need a better way.


I am glad that their voting rights have been restored. Everyone deserves the right to vote. Virginia is correcting their past mistakes of unfairly denying people the right to vote.


I agree that our CJ system should be changed to allow certain convictions to fall off people’s records.

However, I do not think a blanket restoration of a particular right was a good idea–I don’t want pedophiles to vote for those who want to lower the age of consent, for example–and this election-year grandstanding, along with so many other “oddities” occurring, is sickening.


Two things strike me about this:

First, there’s the irony of Gov. McAuliffe overriding the will of the legislature - the arm of the government most representative of the people - in order to “expand voting rights”, he ignores the results of those votes. I guess that’s the Democratic Party in action - keep adding voters until the voting results are “correct”.

Second, it seems more racist to me to claim in this day and age that barring felons from voting is racist, when the underlying assumption - that black people are more likely to be felons - is completely ignored. If a Republican legislator had pointed out that felons are more likely to be black, they would have been pilloried. But since he’s using a racist assumption to “fight” an imagined - but easy to sound-bite - racism, that’s somehow okay?


:thumbsup: I agree!


yes he is working for the Democrats - hoping to help ensure democrat victories in Virginia.


I have no doubt that the primary motivation for this was to increase the Democrat electorate in the state of Virginia . Having said that I also think it’s a right thing to do .


I don’t think this goes far enough. Obviously these “felons” are victims of the corrupt “prison-industrial complex”, so they should be allowed compensatory votes for the time they were serving.


Oh, veeerrrrrry inteeerrrrresting point about the reactions to Dems’ and Reps’ mentions of felons’ being disproportionately black!

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