Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration had few answers Tuesday for a room full of Richmonders frustrated by a court ruling that threw out the governor’s order that restored voting rights for more than 200,000 felons. At a town hall event held in a church on Richmond’s North Side, McAuliffe appointees and Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond, told attendees to stay involved in the issue, but offered little concrete information about when and how felons affected by the order will have their rights restored again. “Don’t give up hope. The governor’s committed to doing this,” said Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “The No. 1 marching order for tonight is to stay tuned,” McClellan said.
McClellan said the event, held at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, was intended to clear up confusion about the Supreme Court of Virginia’s ruling last month that threw out the blanket restoration order McAuliffe announced in April. The Supreme Court order, sparked by a challenge from Republican leaders in the General Assembly, also forced the cancellation of roughly 13,000 voter registrations by felons covered under McAuliffe’s action.
Some misinformation has come straight from McAuliffe, who is on vacation this week. Speaking at the Democratic National Convention after the court ruling, McAuliffe promised he’d restore the rights to all 200,000 felons by the end of last week. The governor’s political action committee wrongly suggested last week that he had already restored the rights of the 13,000 felons who registered to vote.