Our own Larry O’Connor joined Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight to answer the question: Should Virginia felons who have completed their sentences have the right to vote? Larry addressed the issue yesterday, calling it a gift from Governor Terry McAuliffe to his longtime pal Hillary Clinton, especially given that McAuliffe’s executive action doesn’t take into account whether the felons have fulfilled their requirements for victim compensation — or even whether they’ve committed any more crimes. Our new editor-at-large made the same arguments on Fox, and reminded people that 200,000 new voters in Virginia matters in November:
Virginia is a battleground state in presidential elections, and the addition of 200,000 voters off the felon rolls could have a big impact. Barack Obama won Virginia by 149,000 votes, primarily by running up big leads in Richmond and northern Virginia, an area I analyze in my book Going Red. This will force the Republican nominee to intensify efforts to expand the GOP/conservative tent through a ground-up campaign as described in the book, in a region where the GOP already has significant obstacles even apart from the nominee.
Theoretically, I’d favor restoring civil rights to felons, but not until and unless all time and probation has been served, all restitution has been made, and no other crimes have been committed. Waving a wand and abruptly restoring voting rights when those conditions have not been met is not just a cynical political act — it undermines the concept of justice for those victims who have every right to expect their state government to enforce those sentences absent sudden evidence of innocence.
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