WASHINGTON — Fairfax County, Virginia is home to 425 felons who registered to vote after Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s mass voting rights restoration order in April but had those rights voided by the Virginia Supreme Court.
WTOP analyzed a list of 12,832 people in Northern Virginia jurisdictions who registered to vote after McAuliffe’s order, which initially affected more than 200,000 felons.
The names and addresses of the nearly 13,000 registrants in Northern Virginia were provided on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
The McAuliffe administration has refused to provide raw data about the affected felons. In its own characterization, the McAuliffe administration said the felons had completed their prison sentences and periods of court-ordered supervision.
Virginia’s court records are online, but are broken down by individual circuit and district courts, making a search for each felon’s criminal history challenging and time-consuming.
The state’s sex offender database is searchable by county and city, in addition to names, making it possible to research a person’s criminal history.
In its appraisal, the McAuliffe administration said that approximately 80 percent of the felons were non-violent and that 20 percent had committed violent crimes.
As the largest county in Virginia, Fairfax County’s high number of felons who registered to vote after McAuliffe’s order isn’t surprising. However, of the 12 counties analyzed by WTOP, Fairfax is the only county in which registered sex offenders who registered to vote made up more than 10 percent of the county’s felons included in the elections website.
Delegate Rob Bell, R-Va., who coordinated a lawsuit against McAuliffe’s executive order, released a statement after being shown WTOP’s breakdown of affected felons.
“Since 1870, Virginia has had a system for deserving felons to have their rights restored on a case-by-case basis,” said Bell.
“The released list includes both nonviolent offenders and some who committed very violent offenses, including sex crimes against children,” Bell said. “We believe the proper approach — and the only one allowed under the Constitution — is for the governor to review the applicants individually to determine if he believes the felon should have his civil rights restored.”
McAuliffe’s spokesman Brian Coy told WTOP in an email that those who had their rights restored “are people who served their time and reentered society in search of a second chance.”
Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.