It is hard to see Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe's extension of voting rights to 200,000 convicted felons (including many convicted of armed robbery, rape and murder) as anything other than a way to tip the commonwealth to Hillary Clinton in November.

Some felons should be allowed to regain their voting rights. But Hans Von Spakowsky and Roger Clegg point out in National Review that McAuliffe's stroke of the pen method is a travesty on justice:

Restoring a felon’s right to vote should be done not automatically, as soon as he has completed his sentence, but carefully, on a case-by-case basis, after he has shown that he has really turned over a new leaf.

The unfortunate truth is that many people who walk out of prison will be walking back in; recidivism rates are high. We have both testified before Congress and written about this problem.

Governor McAuliffe may be happy as long as the ex-felons who can now vote just don’t walk back into prison before November.


Von Spakowsky and Clegg note that McAuliffe did restore their Amendment Rights. Apparently, he believes that ex cons can be trusted to vote on laws for the rest of us (even if they have had serious trouble obeying the law) or to decide on a jury but that having a gun is just going too far.

 A 2013 report by the Rights Restoration Advisory Committee, which was set up to review this very issue and included a number of legal heavyweights, said that the governor does not have this right. Of course, McAuliffe played the race card when he made the announcement.

The felon vote could be just enough to hand the state to Hillary Clinton:

It is estimated that McAuliffe’s action will add 3.8 percent to the 5.4 million registered voters in Virginia. That may not seem like a lot, but McAuliffe knows very well that Virginia today is a swing state with recent statewide elections that have been decided by a very small margin. In 2013, the current attorney general, Mark Herring (D.), won his race by only 907 votes. Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R.) won his prior post as attorney general by only 360 votes in 2005. Even the Washington Post, which applauded McAuliffe’s action, acknowledged there is “no doubt” about the “political dimension” in this move by “a Democrat and longtime friend and fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton” — namely, that it “grant[s] Democrats a crucial edge in a swing state ahead of November’s presidential election.”

McAuliffe is continuing a pattern. Last year he vetoed a bill that would have helped clean up voter-registration lists. The bill required county court clerks to send to local election officials information about individuals who were excused from jury duty because they were not U.S. citizens or were no longer residents of Virginia. McAuliffe seems intent on making sure that ineligible and illegal voters can continue to vote.

He is following the example set by President Obama: If you don’t like a law or a constitutional limit on your authority, just ignore it. Rewrite, change, or bend it. The New York Times inadvertently gave the game away when it said that McAuliffe’s “action effectively overturns a Civil War–era provision in the state’s Constitution.”

McAuliffe’s willingness to do anything (and to say anything) to achieve partisan political goals shows a complete contempt for the rule of law and for the constitutional republic that is the United States. What a sad day for the great state that was the home of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison, George Mason, and the father of our country, George Washington.

Voting rights are just about the last thing a convict needs when getting out of prison. Jobs might be more essential to the process of becoming law-abiding citizens. Noah Rothman comments in Commentary:

Of all the struggles facing the nation’s previously incarcerated convicted felons, restoring their rights to cast a ballot seems the least pressing. The fact that this aspect of reintegration into society can flow from a lawmaker’s pen stroke makes the temptation to pursue such a reform irresistible to the nation’s Democratic officeholders.

Calling it a civil rights issue and the end of a chapter in Virginia’s “long and sad history” of preventing African-Americans from exercising their voting rights, the Old Dominion State’s Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to hundreds of thousands of violent and nonviolent felons last week, even those who had never applied for restoration to the voter rolls. McAuliffe’s assertion suggests Democratic motives on this issue are as political as they are altruistic.

It revealed that this was, in part, an extension of Democratic attempts on the left to cast any and every effort by Republicans to ensure the integrity of the vote as a vaguely racist endeavor designed to disenfranchise African-Americans, as well as to disadvantage Democratic candidates.

Rothman says that those who attack McAuliffe's possible motive (help Hillary) do themselves a disservice. I disagree. Why not state the obvious?