At about the same time last week that Gov. Bob McDonnell was restoring the rights of felons to vote, the State Board of Elections was removing voters from local voting lists across the state. The odor of politics is much stronger in the actions taken by the elections board. With respect to the general elections coming up in two weeks, the timing couldn’t be worse. McDonnell said last week that the civil rights of more than 6,800 Virginians have been restored during his tenure, including 1,577 since July 15 when he began automatically restoring rights for non-violent felons on an individual basis. Administration officials were said to be scrambling in recent weeks to restore rights to as many non-violent felons as possible before last week’s deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 5 elections.
At the same time, lawyers for the Democratic Party of Virginia were headed to federal court in Alexandria to seek an injunction to prevent the SBE and local registrars from purging nearly 58,000 names from the rolls. The Democrats contend the list upon which the elections board is relying is riddled with errors that could result in eligible voters being stricken from voter lists. Many of those on the purge list are believed to be registered in another state. Others are inactive voters who have not voted for years.
Elections board officials said last week they have already purged 38,870 names, while keeping more than 11,000 on the rolls after county registrars conducted their own reviews. Another 7,285 have been left on the rolls designated as “inactive,” which keeps them on the rolls but requires them to fill out additional paperwork to cast a ballot in November.