On Friday, Virginia Governor McAuliffe granted the ability to vote to over 200,000 previous inmates. Former convicts that have served their times can now vote in the 2016 election. The newly eligible Virginians will be added to the already established 5.3 million registered voters in the Commonwealth.
However, nothing is done without controversy. Especially in politics. Republicans have already filed motions to force Governor McAuliffe to retract his new law. State republicans are claiming that McAuliffe has overstepped his authority and committed an unlawful act. The governor responded by saying he had checked with his legal team well in advance of the announcement and everything that he did was completely legal.
Governor McAuliffe’s decision to grant former felons the right to vote has raised eyebrows. Many reporters have pointed out McAUliffe’s close relation with both Bill and Hillary Clinton. Studies have shown that most former inmates once released tend to vote Democratic. This decision could have an impact in any state, but especially Virginia since it is a swing state during an election year like no other.
The announcement of this new law has already frustrated Donald Trump. He made statements earlier citing the Governor’s decision as idiotic and biased. Hillary Clinton has thanked her “friend” McAuliffe for his compassionate decision.
A lot of the people who suffered from the jurisdiction of this regulation committed their crimes when they were younger than 25 years old. They are still facing consequences from actions committed when they were a completely different person. Inmates have already served their time, why should they have to continue their sentence after release? This is why Governor McAuliffe agreed to give released prisoners back their rights. Nationally, six million previous offenders are still without voting privileges.
Looking towards the next election, it is hard to predict the effect Virginia’s newest voters could have on the outcome. Out of the 200,000 people given rights, it is expected that over 30,000 will vote. In 2014, one Senator won his election by a slim 17,000 votes. These first time voters have the power to swing the next election by as most as eight percentage points.