Former felons across country fighting for voting rights
Posted July 13, 2016
Of the 200,000 former felons in Virginia who were given the right to vote this past April through their governor's executive order, only about 9,000 have registered, according to NPR.
Republican officials are suing the Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, for overreaching his powers, asserting that he may only restore voting rights on a case-by-case basis.
The Virginia Supreme Court will hear the case on July 19.
"It doesn't do anybody any good to try to disenfranchise anybody and make it harder for them to reintegrate themselves into society,” Anthony Puryear, who was recently released from prison, told NPR. “A lot of them need every freedom they can get.”
McAuliffe, who said he will sign all 200,000 restoration cases by hand if the court rules against him, denied allegations that he restored rights to help Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton earn more votes from the state.
Those suing McAuliffe say the process has resulted in numerous mistakes, including restored voting rights to offenders still in prison. Aides for the governor told NPR there were a few errors, but that they were remedied and that it is still a crime for anyone in prison, on probation or on parole to officially vote in an election.
Disenfranchisement laws, or the loss of ability to vote, vary state by state and reinstatement of voting rights to former felons is becoming a topic of debate across the nation. Earlier this week, the Miami New Times reported that Florida has laws that restrict former felons from voting, but not from donating to campaigns.
And the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a ban on felons voting this past June.
Former convicts are stepping up in states like Louisiana, where more than 70,000 felons recently filed a lawsuit demanding their right to vote.
And, lawmakers in Delaware approved a bill in June allowing felons to vote before they’ve paid off all fines and restitution. The decision comes three years after the state decided to waive a five-year waiting period for all felons looking to cast a ballot.
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