Virginia governor orders felons be given the right to vote

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed an executive order adding about 200,000 new voters – likely to vote Democrat by huge margins – to the Old Dominion’s electorate.  The Democratic Party has followed a long term, highly successful strategy of changing the composition of the voting public in ways that add voters likely to favor them. Large scale legal and illegal immigration from poor countries with a socialistic bent, aggressive naturalization programs, lowering the voting age to 18, and voter registration drives for those who are not much interested in civic life but instructed that they have should casually choose a candidate and vote in advance by mail are all part of this strategy.

Sari Horowitz and Jenna Portnoy of the Washington Post report:

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will allow more than 200,000 ex-cons in Virginia to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election, one of the biggest actions taken by a state to instantly restore voting rights.

The change applies to all felons who have completed their sentences and been released from supervised probation or parole. The Democratic governor’s decision particularly affects black residents of Virginia: 1 in 4 African Americans in the state has been permanently banned from voting because of laws restricting the rights of those with convictions.

“Once you have served your time and you’ve finished up your supervised parole. . .I want you back as a full citizen of the commonwealth,” McAuliffe said. “I want you to have a job. I want you paying taxes, and you can’t be a second-class citizen.”

The governor called the instant restoration of rights to these Virginians the natural next step to his incremental streamlining of a process that has already given 18,000 nonviolent felons their rights back. With the signing of Friday’s executive order, McAuliffe eliminated the need for an application for violent felons who had completed their sentences up to that moment.

It is unclear to me how McAuliffe has the power to do this. The WaPo article skirts the question:

“A blanket order restoring the voting rights of everyone would be a rewrite of the law rather than a contemplated use of the executive clemency powers. And, the notion that the Constitution of the Commonwealth could be rewritten via executive order is troubling,” Mark Rubin wrote in a letter at the time.

But the article also reports:

McAuliffe will have to sign an identical executive order every month for the remaining two years of his term to cover violent felons who get out of prison each month. The next governor could easily reverse the designation for future felons by ending the practice that McAuliffe began Friday. Virginia governors serve one four-year term and there’s an election in 2017.

So, evidently McAuliffe is using the pardon or clemency powers of the governor to add newly released felons to the voting rolls. If this is the legal mechanism, it somewhat resembles President Obama’s circumvention of immigration law via DACA and DAPA, policies which use executive powers to “prioritize” the use of government resources and thereby suspend enforcement of immigration law regarding favored classes of illegal immigrations (children and parents) illegally in the United States.

Most progressives will portray McAuliffe’s action as a matter of racial justice, since blacks disproportionately commit felonies and lose voting rights in some states. This disproportion is particularly shocking in Virginia:

1 in 4 African Americans in the state has been permanently banned from voting because of laws restricting the rights of those with convictions.

The underlying question which deserves consideration is whether or not someone who has violated the most basic aspect of the social compact by committing a serious crime or crimes should be part of the body that governs others. The right to vote was not selected by the framers of the Constitution as a fundamental right. Participating in the governance of others is a serious responsibility, in my view. I do not measure the success of our system by high voter turnout, if that means selecting the candidate with the best hair or the candidate you’d most enjoy having a beer with.  But obviously I am in the minority. With McAuliffe’s action, it is likely Virginia will become a sold blue state, for the Democrats are the party of felons. (via the Annals of the American Academy of Political Science):

"[In New York] ex-felons who are registered overwhelmingly register as Democrats. Of those discharge records that match to at least one voter file record, 61.5 percent match only to Democratic voter records. In contrast, 25.5 percent match only to voter records with no affiliation or an affiliation with a minor party, while 9 percent match only to Republican voter records...

...[R]egistered ex-felons in New Mexico tend to be overwhelmingly Democrat: 51.9 percent match to only registered Democrats, 18.9 percent match to only registered Republicans, 21.7 percent match to only individuals registered neither as Democrats nor Republicans, and 7.5 percent match to multiple individuals who affiliate with different parties...