Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced on Wednesday that he is restoring the voting rights of nonviolent felons on a case-by-case basis.
According to officials for the McDonnell administration, McDonnell’s decision is the furthest that Virginia law will allow him to act, removing any possibility that nonviolent felons will have their voting rights restored on a larger scale.
The change in administrative policy will take place on July 15th, removing the application process for nonviolent felons. As the Richmond Times points out, “The change means thousands of nonviolent felons in Virginia could get their voting rights back in time to vote in the November election.” It could just be a coincidence, right?!
As of 28 May, 2013, the McDonnell administration has restored the civil rights of 4,843 felons, a record for any Virginia governor. As reported earlier, however, there are still close to 350,000 disenfranchised individuals in Virginia who have met the requirements for voting rights restoration but who still cannot vote.
Not to be too tongue-in-cheek, but you have to admire a political party that, on the whole, appears conflicted about targeting minorities such as Hispanics (at least until quite recently) for inclusion while seemingly unambiguous about targeting nonviolent felons as a viable demographic to restore some of the Republican Party’s fading luster among the country’s shifting demographics.
The political effort to bring nonviolent felons who have served out their sentences ‘back into the fold’ of society’s privileged caste is, of course, an objective that should be pursued. If anything, elected officials who accept obviously extravagant gifts from political donors who have a chip to play in the political game should have THEIR voting rights stripped and be thrown out of office, permanently.
It is exceedingly ironic, however, that the discussion to give illegal immigrants who have worked in the U.S., abided by the law, and even paid taxes voting rights is not even in the back of the vast majority of the minds of lawmakers. Then again, good sense oftentimes makes little political sense.