Virginia Republicans File Lawsuit to Block Legislation Restoring Voting Rights to Felons

Photo by Ariel Skelley
One in four African-Americans within the state are at risk of losing their voting rights.

One month after Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to hundreds of thousands of felons, Republicans lawmakers have filed a lawsuit that aims to strip those individuals of that right.

The Washington Post reports that earlier this week, state GOP leaders told the Supreme Court of Virginia that Gov. McAuliffe’s actions, in which he reinstated the voting rights for 200,000 felons provided they had completed their sentence and were no longer on probation or parole, exceeded his authority. The lawsuit aims to bar those former prisoners from voting in the November elections.

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“From Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to Tim Kaine and Bob McDonalle, every governor of Virginia has understood the clemency power to authorize the Governor to grant clemency on an individualized basis only,” reads the lawsuit.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Gov. McAuliffe issued a statement, saying that the claims were discriminatory, citing that those affected are overwhelmingly Black (one in four Black Virginia citizens would not be able to vote because they have a record).

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“Today, Republicans filed a lawsuit to preserve a policy of disfranchisement that has been used intentionally to suppress the voices of qualified voters, particularly African-Americans, for more than a century,” Gov. McAuliffe said in a statement. “These individuals have served their time and are now living, raising families and paying taxes in our communities—this suit is an effort to continue to treat them as second-class citizens.”

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