On Friday, Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, has restored voting rights to over 200,000 Virginia convicted felons. Many states in the U.S. restrict the voting right of people convicted of serious crimes once they’re released.
The Democrat Governor said at a news conference on the Capitol steps in Richmond that he intends to help to change state’s troubled history of trying to suppress the black vote because he considers it is an injustice. Barriers still exist and they are making several Virginian, particularly minorities, ineligible to vote, he claimed.
“I will sign an order restoring the civil and voting rights of every single individual who has completed his or her sentence as of this day,” he said at the conference.
Nearly 6 million Americans lost their voting right because they were convicted of a felony, which is a charge that usually carries a prison sentence of over a year. The governor reproves that so many voices had been suppressed at the ballot box for so long.
The governor assured the order will promote equality among the citizens of Virginia. The move will offer an opportunity for running for office, the right to serve on a jury and become a notary public for those who have served their time and completed their supervised probation or parole the right to vote.
“I believe our commonwealth cannot achieve its full potential until all men and women act on this fundamental right and participate in the decisions about their own children’s education, about their taxes and every aspect of their lives,” he said.
The Governor’s order could be taken down by the Republican-led legislature
Governor McAuliffe’s order to restore voting rights is the largest of its kind in the US, according to activists. The Governor said that politicians have always used their authority to limit the right everyone has to participate in their democracy.
Before Governor McAuliffe prepared this order, he consulted with legal experts, and according to them, he had enough authority to restore voting rights in Virginia. Despite his authority, his order is threatened and could be changed by the Republican-led legislature.
The state of Virginia is considered crucial in the coming presidential election – Governor McAuliffe is a close ally of Hilary Clinton, a Democratic nominee for president – so the move to expand voting rights of people convicted of felonies is being targeted by Republicans (mostly) as a strategy to benefit Democrats.
Some Republicans have expressed their opinion about this order over the social media, claiming that with this order Governor McAuliffe is allowing murders and rappers to vote.
Those convicts that want to register to vote must not be in prison, on parole or on probation.