🎯 Felons, Voting, and Virginia: The Trifecta Stirring Up Controversy 🎭

TL;DR: Hold your horses, folks 🐴! It seems the Virginia law that denies more than 300,000 convicted felons the right to vote is under serious fire πŸ”₯. Some big-wig advocacy groups, including ACLU of Virginia and Protect Democracy, are suing state officials and Governor Glenn Youngkin himself. They claim this law is a violation of Virginia’s 150-year-old re-entry terms to the Union after the Civil War and, ultimately, an unjust relic from a time of racial discrimination. But wait, there’s more 🍿…

Pull up a chair, folks. This legal roller coaster 🎒 has just started. The advocacy groups filed the lawsuit on behalf of three felons who can’t vote due to this law, and Bridging the Gap, a non-profit that’s all about helping ex-cons.

So, what makes Virginia so special πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ? It’s one of only three states that strips voting rights from all felons. But here’s the kicker, it’s the ONLY state requiring each felon to go through the governor to get this right restored. Yep, you heard right, each felon has to individually petition the governor 😲.

This isn’t some modern-day brainchild, folks. It dates back to the Virginia Readmission Act of 1870. This Act allowed Virginia back into Congress after the Civil War, but with conditions. The Act prohibited Virginia from denying voting rights for anything but “now felonies at common law” – think murder, arson, and burglary πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™‚οΈ. But over time, Virginia tweaked its constitution to bar all felons from voting, putting it at odds with the Readmission Act. Hence, the lawsuit.

Rachel Homer from Protect Democracy puts it this way: the Feds deliberately restricted the types of crimes that could strip voting rights because they saw states discriminating against newly freed Black citizens through criminal law βš–οΈ.

Here’s a fact that will make you go ‘Hmmm…πŸ€”’: More than 312,000 Virginians, fifth highest in the states, have lost their right to vote due to this law. While Black residents are less than 20% of Virginia’s voting-age population, they account for nearly half of all disenfranchised felons. Coincidence? The lawsuit doesn’t think so.

This legal battle comes hot on the heels of Governor Youngkin changing policies in March that led to fewer ex-cons regaining their right to vote. The governor ended the policy of automatically restoring many felons’ voting rights, putting the decision back on a case-by-case basis 🧐. Yet, when asked about it, Youngkin stood firm, stating, “Everyone gets a full review, and that is our responsibility…”

That’s not all, folks! Another lawsuit popped up in April, arguing that Youngkin’s changes to the system for restoring felon voting rights are unconstitutional. Is this the new norm in Virginia, or just a temporary storm β›ˆοΈ?

As we sit back and munch on our popcorn 🍿, we have to ask: are these policies truly safeguarding our voting system, or are they discriminatory relics of a bygone era? And here’s a provocative nugget to chew on: Is the right to vote unconditional, or should it be subject to the actions of the individual? Your move, world. 🌍 What say you?