Civil Rights Organizations Decry Political Attack on Right to Vote in Virginia

August 31, 2016
CONTACT: Ricardo A. Ramírez

Persons with Prior Felony Convictions are Humans, not Political Footballs

WASHINGTON – Today the General Assembly Republicans of Virginia announced they would take more steps to undercut the right to vote. Specifically, they are asking the Virginia Supreme Court to hold the McAuliffe administration in contempt for restoring voting rights for certain Virginians. The grassroots group New Virginia Majority and Advancement Project, a national, multi-racial civil rights organization, released the following statement:

“The new actions taken by Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly are another attempt to steal democracy from communities of color by blocking certain large numbers of potential voters, disproportionately people of color, from the ballot box,” said Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority. “For opponents of the right to vote, this is less about legal theory than it is about politics – it is yet another desperate attempt to amass political power by keeping racist laws and traditions alive. The disenfranchisement of people who have already served sentences for prior mistakes is an outdated, discriminatory vestige of our nation’s Jim Crow past. There is no place for honoring Jim Crow laws like this in Virginia, and certainly not in our legislature.”

“No adult citizen should be deprived of their fundamental right to vote,” said Edward A. Hailes, Jr., general counsel and managing director for Advancement Project’s national office. “Through Governor McAuliffe’s process, the fundamental right to vote has been restored for thousands of Virginians who have repaid their debt to society. Rather than expressing contempt for their right to vote and embracing a law passed with discriminatory intent, the General Assembly should be asking itself how to restore the rights of the almost 200,000 Virginians who are excited about participating in our democracy. It is time to leave the vestiges of racism where they belong: in the past. We hope the Supreme Court swiftly dismisses the General Assembly’s audacious political maneuver so that order can resume in the fair, compassionate, nondiscriminatory, and constitutional process Governor McAuliffe has established in compliance with the Court’s previous instructions.”