Gov. Terry McAuliffe arrived at the community center in Huntersville Tuesday filled with zeal for restoring voting rights to over 200,000 felons, and zingers for Republicans who have criticized his action. “April 22 was probably my proudest day as governor. It was the right thing to do,” McAuliffe said, referring to the day he issued his executive order at a ceremony outside the Capitol. “I don’t understand the fear mongering by the Republicans. You would have thought I had burned the Capitol down.” McAuliffe was in Huntersville to hear the stories of people who had their voting rights restored. Outside, GOP lawmaker Jason Miyares of Virginia Beach waited to provide reporters a counterpoint.
Republicans have claimed McAuliffe’s order was unconstitutional and an unprecedented overreach of executive power that restores voting rights to murderers and rapists. Last month, the governor’s office released numbers showing that over 80 percent of the felons getting their voting rights back were convicted of nonviolent crimes.
House Speaker Bill Howell, of Stafford County, said in an April statement that “the singular purpose of Terry McAuliffe’s governorship is to elect Hillary Clinton President of the United States.”
Republican lawmakers have filed a lawsuit claiming McAuliffe’s order violated the state constitution. The Supreme Court of Virginia will hear arguments July 19.