It might seem like an odd rallying cry in a state that often takes a hard line on law-and-order matters. But today Democrats hammered at the issue to an enthusiastic response from the party's base.
When Terry McAuliffe this morning called for restoring voting rights for released felons in a stump speech from a church pulpit, parishioners rewarded him with a standing ovation, my colleague Freddy Kunkle reports. It was a big applause line for Brian Moran at a church stop today as well.
Mike Signer, an Arlington lawyer running against Jody Wagner in the lieutenant governor's race, has made the issue one of the pillars of his statewide campaign.
Nearly all states but Virginia allow felons to vote after their debt to society has been paid, Signer said, and not doing so has kept large numbers of African American men from becoming full citizens of the Commonwealth again.
"It goes back to Virginia's Jim Crow era," Signer said. "It's a law that was designed with a racial purpose in mind in an older chapter of Virginia's past."
It's not that he has warmth for felons, he added. It's that he has warmth for democracy, and fully reintegrating individuals after they've served their sentences would strengthen society, not weaken it.
Wagner, a former secretary of finance, also supports restoring voting rights.
Signer said he wasn't worried about teeing up a possible wedge issue.
June 7, 2009; 4:28 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe
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