State officials abruptly removed 132 sex offenders from Virginia’s list of eligible voters last week, reacting to the latest problem emerging from Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s sweeping move to restore voting rights to felons who had served out their sentences. A spokesman for McAuliffe (D) said that the offenders, who are confined in a treatment facility under a form of civil commitment, had appeared on the list of eligible voters by mistake. “Those folks should not have been on the list, and they are not there now,” spokesman Brian Coy said. A local prosecutor contends there was no mistake. She says state officials changed the records to try to hide a politically awkward accident — that McAuliffe inadvertently restored voting rights to some of Virginia’s worst sexual predators.
“This is a cover-up, plain and simple,” Nottoway County Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry J. Royall said. “They’ve cleaned up the database.”
With an executive order in April, McAuliffe restored voting and other civil rights to more than 200,000 felons who had completed their terms of incarceration or “supervised release, including probation and parole.”
A string of troubles followed the decision, including revelations that McAuliffe had mistakenly restored voting rights to several violent felons still in prison. Republican legislative leaders filed a lawsuit claiming that McAuliffe lacked the legal authority to grant clemency en masse. And 43 Republican, Democratic and independent commonwealth’s attorneys weighed in against the governor with an amicus brief filed Friday.
[Republicans blast McAuliffe over errors on clemency]
Royall, an independent, raised yet another issue. She said McAuliffe’s order covered 132 sex offenders who have completed their criminal sentences but remain locked up because they have been deemed too dangerous to release. They have been committed, through civil court proceedings, to the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Nottoway County, about an hour’s drive southwest of Richmond.