Virginia election officials have set a deadline of Aug. 8 to cancel voting rights of felons who had registered under mass gubernatorial orders that were overturned a week ago by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
However, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has reviewed an initial list of 12,500 felons who had successfully registered to vote under his three blanket orders restoring their civil rights and has begun preparing to restore their rights on an individual basis.
Those ex-offenders would have to reapply to register to vote once they receive their individual restoration orders.
“It’s very possible we will send them an order and a voter registration application,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said. “We will try to make it as convenient as possible for them to do what they had already done before Republicans filed a lawsuit to take their rights away.”
House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, joined with four other Republican voters to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate the governor’s mass restoration orders as an unconstitutional action that diminished their votes.
The court agreed in a ruling on July 22 that directed state election officials and local registrars to cancel the registration of felons whose rights “purportedly” had been restored by McAuliffe in orders signed April 22, May 31 and June 24.
Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés advised local registrars on Friday that the state has updated its list of prohibited voters to reflect the court’s decision, which reversed the governor’s orders restoring voting rights to an estimated 206,000 ex-offenders.
The commissioner directed registrars to deny applications from voters with felony convictions whose rights had been restored by the governor’s three mass orders.
“If an individual’s felony conviction record indicates a restoration of rights prior to April 22, 2016, and there is no subsequent felony record associated with that individual, then you should register the individual, assuming all other eligibility requirements have been met,” Cortés advised registrars.
Richmond General Registrar J. Kirk Showalter said the guidance will require her to deny about 800 applications that had been pending.
“That’s just for those we haven’t processed yet,” she said.
Showalter said her office will wait for confirmation that about 400 ex-offenders who had registered in the city under the governor’s orders no longer are eligible.
They are among the more than 12,500 felons who had registered under the governor’s restoration orders prior to the Supreme Court ruling.
“The cancellation and notification to voters the court has ordered removed from the registration rolls will be completed by Aug., 8, 2016,” Cortés advised registrars.
In the meantime, McAuliffe is preparing to issue individual orders to restore the rights of those ex-offenders who will be removed from the rolls.
“Anyone whose registration is canceled as a result of the court order will have to register to vote again once he or she becomes eligible,” Cortés confirmed in an email.