The Washington Post rips Bob McDonnell in language you rarely see in that staid, pro-corporate, moderate-conservative newspaper’s editorial pages. Check this out.
…[McDonnell’s] initial attempts to expedite the process [of restoring voting rights to non-violent ex-felons] have come with a fat asterisk that casts doubt on any claim to fairness and decency, let alone moderation…
…Only Virginia and Kentucky insist that some sanctions last indefinitely — until the state, in its infinite wisdom, grants what the U.S. Constitution regards as the inalienable right to vote. In the Old Dominion, the result is that huge numbers of people are disenfranchised. Although the powers that be in Richmond regard former felons with such contempt that they don’t even bother counting them, voting rights advocates estimate that some 300,000 ex-cons in Virginia remain barred from voting. African Americans account for just a fifth of Virginia’s 7.8 million citizens but are thought to constitute about half of those ineligible to vote. This is Jim Crow by another name.
…Virginia’s secretary of the commonwealth, Janet Polarek, who oversees the process, makes it sound as if the ex-offenders would be applicants vying for coveted positions at a selective college. The essays, she said, would allow the petitioners “to have their full stories heard.”
We would forgive any Virginians who do not feel grateful for this patronizing offer. It should not require applications, essays or the approbation of condescending bureaucrats to restore the vote to people who have paid for their wrongdoing. It is a matter of equity and democratic fair play and should be treated accordingly.
Not that Bob McDonnell appears to care about “equity,” “democratic fair play,” or being the governor of all Virginians (as opposed to his hard-right “base”). Instead, as Tim Murphy of Mother Jones points out, commenting on McDonnell’s “nifty little quasi-literacy test,” our fine governor is far more interested in “mak[ing] the process [of restoring ex-felons voting rights] even more subjective and burdensome” than in “improv[ing] the subjective and burdensome application process for felons.” Priorities, priorities.
It’s also nice to see what Bob McDonnell is spending his precious time doing, as opposed to focusing on “Bob’s for jobs,” as he promised during the 2009 gubernatorial campaign. It’s a nice bookend, I suppose, to Crazy Cooch wasting the AG Office’s time and resources fighting for “nullification” and “states rights” – or whatever word he’s calling it these days – rather than fighting, oh let’s say, crime? Actually doing the job you were hired to do? I know, what a concept.