The Supreme Court of Virginia will hold a special session July 19 to take up the Republican challenge to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order that restored voting rights for more than 200,000 felons. Republican leaders in the General Assembly had sought to have the case heard as early as next month. They argued in court filings that the matter should be decided by Aug. 25 at the latest to avoid “casting doubt on the legitimacy” of the November elections. The McAuliffe administration has refused to release the list of the 206,000 felons, saying that state election law exempts from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act individual records maintained in the state’s voter registration system. Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, asserted in an email Wednesday that “all information received from other entities for the purpose of maintaining accurate voter registration records” is “part of our statewide voter registration system and covered by this exemption.”
House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, said in a statement Wednesday: “We are pleased the Supreme Court recognizes the urgency of our challenge to Governor McAuliffe’s unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of executive power.”
Howell is a plaintiff in the case along with Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, R-James City, and four voters.
In filings defending the order, Attorney General Mark Herring did not object to a special session. But he urged the court not to rush the case by scheduling arguments this month and noted that Republicans spent a month preparing their challenge to an order that took effect April 22.