by Gary L. Bauer
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) signed a sweeping executive order last Friday restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 ex-felons. The move potentially expands Virginia’s voting rolls by nearly 4 percent.
That is not an insignificant figure. Virginia’s 2014 Senate race was decided by fewer than 18,000 votes or eight-tenths of one percent. The year before, the race for attorney general was decided by 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast, or 0.007 percent.
And in 2012, Barack Obama won Virginia by fewer than 150,000 votes or 3.9 percent.
There is no question that this move overwhelmingly benefits Democrats. Few doubt that former DNC Chairman McAuliffe was doing his part to make sure that Virginia would be in Hillary Clinton’s column in November.
McAuliffe was clearly borrowing from Barack Obama’s playbook. This executive order is likely unconstitutional and exceeds McAuliffe’s authority as governor. But don’t take my word for it.
Democrat Tim Kaine, who served as governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, was asked by the ACLU to do exactly what Terry McAuliffe just did. The Kaine Administration declined, telling the ACLU that “A blanket order restoring the voting rights of everyone would be a rewrite of the law. . .”
Even the left-wing New York Times acknowledged as much, writing, “The action effectively overturns a Civil War-era provision in the state’s Constitution.” No governor has the power to overturn his state’s constitution!
Once again, the left does not hesitate to assault the rule of law in order to advance its own agenda.
William Howell, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, blasted McAuliffe’s action that includes “even the most heinous violent crimes including murder, rape, child rape, and kidnapping.” Speaker Howell vowed to “immediately begin a detailed review of the Governor’s policy to determine what options are available to the General Assembly.”
Gary L. Bauer served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration for eight years, as Under Secretary of Education and as President Reagan’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor.