Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order Friday restoring the voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons, a sweeping action the governor said was aimed largely at rectifying Virginia’s “long and sad history” of suppressing African-American voting power.
The move, coming in a presidential election year, outraged Republicans who accused McAuliffe of abusing his power to help longtime ally Hillary Clinton win a battleground state by putting more likely Democratic voters on the books.
The governor’s order applies to all violent and nonviolent felons who had finished their sentence and supervised release as of Friday, even those who have not applied for a restoration of rights. Previous Virginia governors have restored rights on an individual basis, but none has done it for an entire category of offenders with one pen stroke.My guess is that few will actually vote, but it is a reminder that Democrats care deeply about having their sort voting.