A conservative legal advocacy group has filed a second challenge to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order that restored voting rights for roughly 206,000 Virginia felons. Washington-based Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit Monday in Bedford County Circuit Court on behalf of five Bedford voters who argue they’ll be harmed by the votes of felons who have been unlawfully registered to vote. “Unless an injunction is granted, plaintiffs’ lawful votes will be canceled 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,” the lawsuit states. Rick Boyer, a Lynchburg-area lawyer and Republican activist is listed as an attorney for the plaintiffs along with James F. Petersen, a Judicial Watch attorney in Washington.
The Judicial Watch suit is nearly identical to the legal challenge Republican leaders in the General Assembly filed in May. Republicans say McAuliffe exceeded his constitutional authority by issuing a blanket order for all felons who have completed their sentences and supervised release without reviewing each case individually. The governor, backed by legal scholar A.E. Dick Howard, has said the constitution grants him broad authority over rights restoration.
“It’s also the right thing to do,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said Tuesday. “It’s a shame that these right-wing groups are wasting time and taxpayer money defending a policy that has been used to disenfranchise and marginalize Virginians along racial lines instead of working to encourage more access to the ballot box for people from all walks of life.”