Virginia governor signs order restoring voting rights for felons
Man holding a vote badge (Shutterstock)

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an order on Friday restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons who have completed their sentences in a move that could help the Democratic nominee in November's presidential election.

By using his executive powers, the Democratic governor would circumvent the Republican majority in the state Legislature. Many of the convicts affected by the executive order are African-Americans, a group of voters that has voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in the past.

McAuliffe tweeted a photo of himself signing the order in the state capital of Richmond, surrounded by members of his administration and others.

“Virginia will no longer build walls and barriers to the ballot box – we will break them down,” McAuliffe said in a message on his Twitter account.

McAuliffe has made the restoration of voting rights and other civil rights a priority during his administration. The order expands on previous efforts to restore voting rights to felons, as well as to permit them to sit on juries, serve in elected office or become a notary.

(Reporting by Frank McGurty; Editing by Andrea Ricci)