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McAuliffe’s promise to restore voting rights to ex-felons in two weeks not fulfilled

Posted at 9:31 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-08 23:21:49-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced at a breakfast for the Virginia Delegation at the Democratic National Convention on July 25 that he would personally restore the voting rights for more than 200,000 ex-felons in the state within two weeks.

But, two weeks later, not a single ex-felon's voting rights have been restored.

McAuliffe originally issued an executive order to restore the voting rights of all nonviolent ex-felons, but not long after the Virginia Supreme Court struck down the order in a 4-3 vote calling it unconstitutional.

Ex-felon Darryl Cousins, who showed us the letter he received that told him he was eligible to vote back in May, said the court’s decision was disappointing.

“It was given and then it was snatched away,” Cousins said.

Darryl Cousins

Darryl Cousins

Yet, Cousins and others had renewed hope when McAuliffe announced to loud applause at the DNC that he would personally restore the rights of all ex-felons.

“By two weeks, all 206,000 will have their rights back, folks,” McAuliffe told the crowd.

Two weeks later, though, nobody’s rights have been restored.

Brian Coy, the Governor’s spokesperson, said when the Governor returned from the convention, he realized he would need to extend that deadline.

“We’re in the process of making sure the list is accurate, making sure we’ve fully complied with the court’s order,” Coy said.

Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe

“Are you confident that this will be achieved by the November presidential election?” CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked.

“I’m not going to put a timetable on it now,” Coy said.

“Do you feel at all like it was disingenuous to make that announcement and yet not be able to follow through with it?” Hipolit asked.

“No, I would hope they are comforted that we are taking the extra time and making sure we are being as fastidious as we can with this list, making sure we know who is on it,” Coy responded.

Coy said the roughly 13,000 ex-felons who already registered to vote will ultimately be able to vote in November, but Cousins remains skeptical.

“Promises, I take them with a grain of salt,” Cousins said.

There will be a Town Hall meeting to talk about the restoration of voting rights Tuesday at Fifth Street Baptist Church between 6:30 and 8 p.m.  Delegate Jennifer McClellan is hosting the meeting.