Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe D-VA signed an executive order yesterday restoring the voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons in a sweeping action that the governor said was aimed largely at correcting Virginia’s “long and sad history” of suppressing African-American voting power. Of course the Republican dominated legislature was outraged by the move claiming it was all a ploy to enhance Hillary Clinton winning the upcoming presidential election. Boo-woo….
The executive order applies to all violent and non-violent felons who have finished their sentences and/or parole. The order applies even to those ex-felons who have not applied for the restoration of their civil rights. The governor’s order stops just short of creating an automatic civil rights restoration for all ex-offenders. The order is historic and a shift away from Virginia’s policy of lifetime disenfranchisement for those convicted of serious crimes.
“We benefit from a more just and accountable government when we put trust in ALL of our citizens to choose leaders,” the governor said after signed the EO. “It has taken Virginia many centuries, unfortunately, to learn this lesson but today we celebrate its truth,” he added.
Virginia is only 1 of 10 states that do not automatically restore civil rights upon completion of a felony sentence. It is also only 1 of 4 states that require an application by the felon to restore his/her civil rights and it requires action of the governor for such rights to be restored individually. But, yesterdays EO changes all of that.
Supporters of the EO praised the governor for his bold and historic action and for giving offenders a second chance to more fully participate in civic life. Opponents, as expected, were outraged over the move claiming that the governor overreached his authority and that the EO is “unconstitutional.”
People make mistake in life especially when they are young. Sadly, we penalize those people for their lifetime for decades after they have completed their punishment. Everyone deserves a second chance IMO and I’m glad to see Governor McAuliffe had the guts to make such a historic change. The “1 strike and you’re out” thinking is archaic and unjust. We all proclaim we support human rights but, really, our actions or lack thereof in our own communities proves otherwise! That makes us hypocrites, frankly, and liars. If we really do support human rights then we should support the notion that everyone deserves a second chance and frankly rather than the “1 strike you’re out” routine I’d like to see our nation adopt the more just “3 strikes you’re out” notion.” People are people and we all make mistakes. There is no reason for us to deny people a second chance. Part of the problem with reintegrating ex-felons into society is that they are forced to live as SECOND CLASS citizens with no real rights at all. That’s unjust. That’s not right and we all know it deep down in side.
For more on this story see: