(Updated 7-25-16)Virginia GOP Files to Remove 200,000 People with a Criminal Record from Voter Registry
Date:  06-18-2016

Republican leaders are at odds with Democratic Governor’s executive order granting voting rights to those who completed their sentence
Update: Although the Virginia Supreme Court invalidated Gov. McAuliffe's mass order granting voting rights to over 200,000 people convicted of felonies because Virginia law states voting rights can only be given back on a case-by-case basis, McAullife vows to sign every one of the orders individually. Read more

From The Sentencing Project

GOP files suit to block 200K people with felony convictions from voting

Republican leaders of Virginia’s House and Senate filed suit with the state Supreme Court in a bid to reverse Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order that would restore voting rights to an estimated 200,000 people who have completed their felony sentence. The privately funded suit alleges that the governor’s executive order exceeded his authority under the Commonwealth’s constitution when he restored voting rights en masse instead of individually. Republicans have asked for an expedited review in order to prevent newly registered individuals from voting in the November election.

In an interview with The Marshall Project, A.E. Dick Howard, professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and constitutional expert who helped draft the current version of the state’s constitution, said the high court was unlikely to rule in the Republicans favor. Gov. McAuliffe consulted Howard before issuing the executive order. Howard told the governor “he clearly has authority,” under Article V Section 12 of the Constitution, to remove political “disabilities from classes of people, as well as to act in individual cases.” Howard also said that the governor’s order “is irrevocable by any other authority,” and someone who has had their voting rights restored can only lose that right as result of a future felony conviction.

In a commentary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Sentencing Project’s Executive Director, Marc Mauer, recently applauded Gov. McAuliffe’s historic executive order, and argued that voting is a fundamental right of democracy that should include all individuals, including those with felony convictions. “Voting rights are determined based on citizenship, not character,” said Mauer. “By extending the right to vote to people who have made mistakes, we can both build a more inclusive democracy and make our communities safer.”