Republicans are losing their minds over Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe restoring the voting rights of 206,000 Virginians who were convicted of felonies, but served their time and completed any release or probationary requirements.
Gov. McAuliffe said:
Throughout my administration my team and I have operated on a simple principle: Virginians who have served their time and reentered society should do so as full citizens of our Commonwealth and country. Too often in both our distant and recent history, politicians have used their authority to restrict peoples’ ability to participate in our democracy. Today we are reversing that disturbing trend and restoring the rights of more than 200,000 of our fellow Virginians who work, raise families and pay taxes in every corner of our Commonwealth.
If we are going to build a stronger and more equal Virginia, we must break down barriers to participation in civic life for people who return to society seeking a second chance. We must welcome them back and offer the opportunity to build a better life by taking an active role in our democracy. I believe it is time to cast off Virginia’s troubling history of injustice and embrace an honest, clean process for restoring the rights of these men and women.
Republicans immediately accused the governor of trying to rig Virginia for Hillary Clinton.
Speaker of the Virginia House, William J. Howell said, “I am stunned yet not at all surprised by the Governor’s action. I am stunned at his broad and unprecedented view of executive power, which directly contradicts how past Governors have interpreted their clemency powers, and I am stunned at his willingness to restore the rights of the most heinous criminals without batting an eye. Yet, I am not surprised by the lengths to which he is willing to go to deliver Virginia to Hillary Clinton in November.”
What the Republican reaction has made obvious for all to see is that the former Party of Lincoln now views any step to help more people vote as a bad thing. Republicans have become so undemocratic that they view a move to allow individuals who have paid their debts to society to vote as a conspiracy against them.
Republicans are melting down because more people will be allowed to participate in the 2016 election. It is has never been more clear that the Republican Party is opposed to and at war with the foundation of our electoral process. Voting rights should be a partisan issue, keeping people away from the polls is the only chance that Republicans have to win.