Virginia felon voting rights challenged
Virginia felon voting rights challenged

Judicial Watch [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint; press release] Tuesday challenging an executive order by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe [official website] restoring the voting rights of certain felons. McAuliffe signed an executive order in April restoring the voting rights [JURIST report] of individuals who have completed the terms of incarceration and have been released from supervised probation or parole for any and all felony convictions. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Bedford County on behalf of several voters:

Plaintiffs are registered voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, 206,000 felons who, by law, should be ineligible to vote, are being, and will be, registered and permitted to vote. Unless an injunction is granted, Plaintiffs lawful votes will be cancelled out, and their voting power will be diluted, by votes cast by individuals who are not eligible to vote under Virginia’s laws and Constitution.

This is the second lawsuit against the order, following a similar challenge [WP report] by Republican lawmakers.

Voting rights have been the subject of numerous legal challenges across the US, particularly in a presidential election year. Last month a federal judge ruled that Ohio’s elimination of the state’s early in-person voting [JURIST report] was unconstitutional and in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Earlier in May a federal judge ruled that Virginia’s voter identification law, which requires that voters have a valid form of ID either before voting or within three days after voting, is constitutional [JURIST report]. Also in May a federal judge ruled that Kansas cannot require voters to provide proof of citizenship [JURIST report] when registering to vote. In April a federal judge upheld [JURIST report] North Carolina’s voter ID law. In February the Maryland Senate overrode a veto by Governor Larry Hogan to pass a bill that will allow felons to vote [JURIST report] before they complete parole or probation.