Republican Bob McDonnell says he’s restored more rights than any other governor of Virginia.
On Wednesday, McDonnell announced that he would expedite the restoration of voting rights to nonviolent felons, eliminating the two-year waiting period and petition process that currently impairs the voting rights of more than 100,000 nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences and satisfied all the conditions of their punishments. This plan will be implemented this summer.
“We are a nation of second chances, we believe in redemption and restoration,” McDonnell said on Thursday’s Morning Joe."It’s the right thing to do.”
McDonnell said this move is in line with his previous actions, adding "I've restored more rights than any governor in Virginia History."
His critics would disagree.
Last year, McDonnell controversially supported a bill mandating abortion seekers to have a transvaginal ultrasound 24 hours before terminating a pregnancy; a less controversial version of the bill, which mandates an abdominal ultrasound, eventually passed and was signed by the governor.
In March, McDonnell signed a law that requires photo identification to vote in Virginia. Civil rights activist weren’t pleased—some called it a poll tax, while others slammed it for disenfranchising the old and poor.
But civil rights activists, particularly the NAACP’s Ben Jealous, are celebrating McDonnell’s latest move. Virginia is one of two states that has a constitutional ruling against felons voting, Jealous said.
“It was put in place explicitly to suppress the black vote. Mr. Glass, a delegate to the 1901 Constitutional convention said, and I quote, because of this plan the ‘darky’ will be eliminated as a factor in our state’s politics in the next five years," he said on Morning Joe. "This was literally the last standing of leg of the Jim Crow suppression strategies."
Jealous, who has fought voter ID laws around the country, cheered on McDonnell for his work.
“It’s not important if you agree on all things, it’s important that you agree on one thing and you can come back together."