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Swing State Virginia No Longer Bars Felons From Voting

by

GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice


Prison officials and political pundits across the nation are keeping a close eye on the controversial move from former Democratic National Committee Chairman and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who on Friday restored voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons. 

This morning's New York Times reports McAuliffe's move could "play a role in deciding the November presidential election."

The executive order will impact felons convicted of violent crimes, including murder and rape. According to the Washington D.C.-based Sentencing Project, an estimated 5.8 million Americans can't vote due to felony convictions. Only two states—Maine and Vermont—have no voting restrictions for felons. Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and now Virginia have some restrictions but still allow many felons to vote.

In Idaho, convicted felons lose their right to vote when they are incarcerated, on parole or on probation. Voting rights for felons can be restored only after their prison term, parole and probation requirements are met. Nineteen other states have similar guidelines.


In 2012, Boise Weekly spoke to Idaho election officials about how they track whether felons are on or off the election rolls.

"We receive a report about once a month from the United States Department of Justice notifying us of felons," said Ilene Goff, election clerk with the Idaho secretary of state's office. "And we forward that information to the different county election boards."

Jo Spencer, supervisor at the Ada County Board of Elections, confirmed that her office reconciles the report by double-checking the Idaho Department of Correction website.

"The prisoners are canceled from the election logs," said Spencer. "They wouldn't appear in any poll book."