Some Va. felons’ voting rights ‘erroneously’ restored

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe answers a question during "Ask the Governor" on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. (WTOP/Kelley Vlahos)

WASHINGTON — The sweeping order handed down by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe that restored voting rights to 206,000 felons is coming under new scrutiny following revelations that the order included felons who should have been left off the list.

Under the governor’s order, felons can have their voting rights restored if they served their sentence and finished parole or probation.

However, a Washington Post investigation has revealed that several felons who are still in prison or on probation were included in the order by mistake.

“It’s clear that there are some folks who have been placed on the list erroneously,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy told WTOP, describing the rights restoration order as a work in progress.

Although those felons could theoretically cast a ballot, Coy said they would be committing a crime if they did so because they don’t qualify for a restoration of their rights under the order.

“We’re obviously working as hard as we can to get it as right as we can. And when we see problems, we fix them.”

Republicans lawmakers who have been critical of the clemency order held a conference call Friday morning, blasting the governor’s administration in the wake of The Washington Post report.

“They’ve made some pretty big mistakes,” said House Speaker Bill Howell. “The governor was so eager, it seems to get this done, it appears he didn’t even do due diligence.”

“It’s incredibly reckless,” he added.

Republicans filed a lawsuit with the Virginia Supreme Court last month claiming the governor does not have the constitutional authority to restore the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of people with one order.

Past governors have restored the civil rights of felons on a case-by-case basis. Rights restoration allow these past offenders to also serve a jury or be a notary public. It does not restore their right to own a gun.

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the legal challenge.

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