Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is taking action to restore the voting rights of thousands of ex-offenders in the state after a court decision Friday put them in jeopardy. He’s getting around the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling against him by signing 200,000 individual clemency grants to the state’s ex-offenders to ensure their right to vote in November.
In a 4 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court of Virginia stripped away the voting rights from 200,000 ex-offenders who had recently regained full civil rights through one of McAuliffe’s executive orders, effectively disenfranchising one in five of the state’s African American voters.
A study earlier this year found that the vast majority of those impacted — 80 percent — committed non-violent crimes. Most have been out of prison for more than a decade, and African Americans are disproportionately represented. Forty-six percent of the ex-offenders are black, though blacks make up less than 20 percent of the state’s population.