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In a historic move, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 ex-felons who paid their debts to society, are no longer incarcerated, on probation, or on parole.

Critics of Gov. McAuliffe claim the move was political and aimed at helping Hillary Clinton win the 2016 presidential election.

The Virginia Supreme Court has put an end to McAuliffe’s apparent good gesture by invalidating the executive order that restored voting rights to the formerly incarcerated.

According to the state’s Supreme Court, Gov. McAuliffe exceeded his authority in issuing the blanket clemency for more than 200,000 former felons. In response to the Virginia High Court, McAuliffe decided to restore voting rights individually for those impacted by the ruling.

During a special simulcast with The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Roland Martin, host of NewsOne Now, talked with Gov. McAuliffe about the Virginia High Court’s decision to reinstate voting rights for the former felons who served their time and paid their debt to society.

Gov. McAuliffe said the court’s ruling “made no sense.”

“The Constitution is clear, the gentleman who wrote our Constitution, the biggest constitutional expert in Virginia, as well as others, said unequivocally I had the authority to do this.

The idea that Republicans are suing so that they can take the rights to vote from people is just absurd, it’s sad and I won’t tolerate it,” he said.

By signing individual orders to restore more than 200,000 former felons’ voting rights, McAuliffe believes more people will come out to register because they will be “incensed” by the order to invalidate his executive order.

“This has nothing to do with politics,” McAuliffe said. “This was morally the right thing to do. Virginia had a horrible racial history going back to 1902 when they put in the Constitution a poll tax, a literacy test, and this disenfranchisement of felons.” 

Later during the conversation, Gov. McAuliffe questioned why society treats former felons who have paid for their crimes so poorly and highlighted the fact that forty other states have reinstated voting rights for ex-felons.

McAuliffe also asked, “Why is Virginia the end of the line once again on trying to lift people up and give people’s civil rights back?”

Watch and listen to Gov. Terry McAuliffe discuss the Virginia Supreme Court invalidating his executive order and his plans to move forward signing individual orders during a special NewsOne Now, Tom Joyner Morning Show simulcast in the video clip above.


Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.


Republicans File Lawsuit To Strip Voting Rights From 200,000 Ex-Felons In Virginia

Virginia High Court Invalidates Gov. McAuliffe’s Executive Order Restoring Voting Rights To 200K Ex-Felons  was originally published on