Government watchdog Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that it has a filed a lawsuit against on behalf of Virginia voters against Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe for granting voting rights to felons via executive order.
In April, McAuliffe signed an executive order granting 206,000 convicted felons the right to vote. The lawsuit against McAuliffe states: “As a result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, 206,000 felons who, by law, should be ineligible to vote, are being, and will be, registered and permitted to vote. Unless an injunction is granted, Plaintiffs lawful votes will be cancelled 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 is seeking a preliminary junction to ensure that the felons to not appear on voting rolls as eligible voters.
Former Virginia Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine’s counsel, Mark Rubin, said in 2010, “a blanket restoration of voting rights [to Virginian convicted felons] within the context of current Virginia law would not be proper.” This sentiment was echoed by former Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in 2013, who said, “the Governor cannot institute by executive order an automatic, self-executing restoration of rights for all convicted felons in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
There has in addition been much political brouhaha over McAuliffe’s executive order due to it possibly tipping the scales in a swing state. Almost half of the felons granted voting rights are black, a key constituency for the Democratic Party. McAuliffe’s executive order applies to felons whose sentences have been completed by April 22, 2016, giving them ample time to register to vote before the November election.
McAuliffe has strong ties to Hillary Clinton, having served as campaign co-chairman in her failed bid for the presidency in 2008. (RELATED: Va. Governor Denies Wrongdoing, Tells FBI ‘They’re Entitled To Do An Investigation’)
Virginia House and Senate Republicans filed a complaint with the state Supreme Court in May to block McAuliffe’s order.
“It is the obligation of the legislative and judicial branches to serve as a check on overreaches of executive power. To that end, we are prepared to uphold the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law by challenging Governor McAuliffe’s order in court,” Virginia House Speaker William Howell said.