Republicans Accuse Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Violating Virginia Constitution

Terry McAuliffe
Terry McAuliffe / AP

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, was accused of breaching the Virginia constitution after issuing an executive order restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 felons in the state.

Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Bill Howell told the Weekly Standard Tuesday that lawyers are currently investigating the potential violation to determine whether a case would stand in court.

Howell said while Virginia’s constitution grants broad clemency power to governors, McAuliffe’s order overstepped its boundaries.

State Republicans are spearheading the push for legal action. The legislature has little jurisdiction over the matter so any final decision has to be resolved by the courts, Howell said.

McAuliffe last week signed an order allowing 206,000 violent and nonviolent felons who have finished their prison sentences in Virginia to regain their right to vote in the state, including those who have not yet applied for a restoration of rights.

The unprecedented action will also grant felons in Virginia the ability to sit on a jury, serve in elected office, or become a notary.

The change is expected to significantly boost Democratic clout in Virginia.

Virginia is only one of 10 states that does not automatically reinstate voting rights for convicts after they complete a prison sentence, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Maine and Vermont are the only two states that do not impede the voting rights of felons.