Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has restored voting rights to almost 13,000 felons on a case-by-case basis after the state Supreme Court blocked his wider clemency effort, he said on Monday.
The announcement by McAuliffe, a Democrat, came a month after the high court blocked an executive order issued in April that had restored voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who had completed their sentences.
The order was seen as a possible aid in tipping Virginia, a swing state in this year’s presidential election, in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Opinion polls have shown her leading Republican candidate Donald Trump in the state.
McAuliffe said he had signed the restoration orders last week for almost 13,000 felons who had had their voter registrations canceled under the court ruling. The orders were mailed on Friday.
“I am not content to condemn them for eternity as inferior and second-class citizens,” he said in a ceremony at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial in Richmond, the state capital.
McAuliffe said state officials would continue to review cases. The names of felons whose rights were restored would be announced on the 15th of every month, he said.
Republican legislative leaders had challenged McAuliffe’s move in court. The state Supreme Court said McAuliffe had overstepped his clemency powers through his sweeping order.
John Whitbeck, chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, said it had always backed restoration of voting rights on a case-by-case basis where deserved.
“We’re going to take a really long look at the individuals who had their rights restored, make sure he complied with the court order … and from there decide what to do,” he said by telephone.
McAuliffe has said his original order would move Virginia away from lifetime disenfranchisement that hits African-Americans particularly hard.
Many of the convicts who benefited were African-Americans or Latinos, two groups that have voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in the past.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, won Virginia in 2012 by about 150,000 votes and in 2008 by about 235,000 votes.
Virginia is one of four states whose constitutions permanently disenfranchise felons but allow the governor to restore voting rights, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan civil liberties group.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Alan Crosby)
Trump approves of North Korea missile tests: ‘I have no problem’ because they’re just ‘short-range missiles’
On Thursday, in conversation with reporters, President Donald Trump said that he had 'no problem' with North Korea's new round of missile tests.
"Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that," said Trump. "I have no problem, we'll see what happens, but these are short-range missiles. They're very standard."
The thought that short-range missiles would still be capable of hitting our allies in the region, like South Korea and Japan, does not seem to have occurred to him.
Trump says he has "no problem" with North Korea testing missiles because they are just "short-range missiles" that are "very standard." pic.twitter.com/fdKtQ6yrBE
Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 US election polls
But one conclusion was unequivocal: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting U.S. public opinion, sowing discord and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Beto O’Rourke calls for a ‘war tax’ in release of health care plan for veterans
The Democratic presidential candidate uses his eighth policy announcement to focus on an area that he prioritized in Congress.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Monday morning released a plan to improve the lives of veterans, returning to an area of priority during his time in the U.S. House for his latest 2020 policy rollout.
In keeping with measures he supported in Congress, the plan calls for a "responsible end" to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — reinvesting $1 out of every $2 saved in veterans programs — and the creation of a Veterans Health Care Trust Fund for each future war. The fund would be paid for by a "war tax" on households without service members or veterans.