Virginia Governor Rejects Calls to Reverse Felon Voting Rights Order

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday rejected calls from state Republican leaders to convene a special legislation on his order that restored voting rights to more than 200,000 felons.

According to the Associated Press, House Speaker William J. Howell and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. sent a letter to Gov. McAuliffe on Tuesday calling his decision last week a “matter of great consequence to the people of the commonwealth of Virginia.”  The GOP leaders said a special session was necessary to give the people’s representatives an opportunity to debate the issue.

“The people, through their elected representatives, deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard on this matter,” the letter stated.

The Republicans also requested that Gov. McAuliffe release a complete list of individuals covered by the order, including details of the offenses, sentences and any outstanding restitution payments that are still owed to victims.

Gov. McAuliffe rejected the demands almost immediately, telling reporters he did not believe a special session was necessary.  McAuliffe framed the issue as a remedy for Virginia’s history of trying to suppress the African American vote.

“After decades of troubling policies intentionally erected to limit Virginians’ voting rights, Gov. McAuliffe used his constitutional authority to break those barriers down,” McAuliffe’s spokesman, Brian Coy, said in a statement to the AP.

As previously reported, McAuliffe’s order restored voting rights to over 200,000 convicted felons in his state that have finished their prison sentence, including parole or probation.

The Virginia constitution also gives the legislature the power to convene a special session with two-thirds support of both chambers. However, with Republicans only holding a narrow 21-18 majority in the Senate,  it is unlikely they could muster the support to convene a special session.

[image via shutterstock]

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