Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced on Monday the restoration of 13,000 convicted felons’ right to vote. The announcement was made at a civil-rights memorial in Richmond, and comes after his previous attempt was blocked by the Virginia state Supreme Court.
“Restoring the rights of Virginians who have served their time and live, work and pay taxes in our communities is one of the pressing civil rights issues of our day,” McAuliffe said in a statement.” “I have met these men and women and know how sincerely they want to contribute to our society as full citizens again.”
The mass re-enfranchisement is the latest maneuvering by McAuliffe in a long-held battle between he and Republican lawmakers who would rather felons and ex-felons, predominately constituted of African-Americans and Democrat voters, stay disenfranchised. In an effort to remain transparent, McAuliffe’s administration will release the names of all those whose rights were restored on the 15th of each month.
The nearly 13,000 ex-felons who have registered to vote after having their rights restored will need to register to vote a second time because they were removed from the rolls due to a Supreme Court stipulation. After Monday’s news, McAuliffe said the state would mail personalized rights restoration notifications as well as voter registration applications to all 13,000 people.
There are 193,000 remaining ex-felons for whom McAuliffe’s office has released a memo outlining a process for rights restoration. The process, at the end of which the governor will have a final say, involves a review by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
In the months leading up to the presidential election, McAuliffe’s efforts could greatly influence the leaning of Virginia. The state has swung in each of the last two presidential elections, and is one of several states with stringent rules that disenfranchise nearly 6 million Americans, disproportionately African-Americans. Polls currently indicate a stable lead for Hillary Clinton over GOP nominee Donald Trump.