At this point, everyone should be well aware of how godawful a governor Glenn Youngkin is. People also should be aware by now – if they weren’t a year or two ago – that when Youngkin gushed in 2021 about how Trump “represents so much of why I’m running” and how Florida’s authoritarian/fascistic governor, Ron DeSantis, was his role model for Virginia, he wasn’t kidding and we all should have taken him seriously.
Anyway, we’re now stuck with this cruel, nasty, egotistical, irresponsible, ambitious jerk as governor. And the damage he’s doing on a bunch of different fronts – trying to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, waging war against public education in Virginia, making our elections less fair and less secure, working to win a “trifecta” so he can restrict women’s reproductive freedom in Virginia, etc, etc. – is really piling up.
Among the many obnoxious and damaging things Youngkin’s doing, he’s been busy erecting barriers towards people exercising their right to vote – for absolutely no good reason, other than the fact that he sees some partisan advantage in it. That includes formerly incarcerated people, who have “served their time and paid their debt to society,” yet who Youngkin STILL thinks should be second-class citizens without all their rights as American citizerns. In response, back in March, VA Senate Privileges and Elections Committee Chair Sen. Lionell Spruill demanded answers from Youngkin about the fact that “the Governor’s annual pardons and restorations each year, shows that only 4,000 voters’ rights were restored in 2022 compared with about 90,000 in 2021, 17,000 in 2020 and 16,000 in 2019.” To this date, it doesn’t appear that Chair Spruill has received any serious answer from Youngkin, nor does Youngkin’s noxious policy appear to have changed for the better.
So now, an excellent new “Bolts” article explains the adverse consequences for our fellow Virginians:
“…By the time the last governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, left office, the rules were simple: the state would restore the voting rights of anyone convicted of a felony upon their release from prison, whether or not they’d finished probation, parole, or any other post-release sentencing condition.
Youngkin, a Republican who came into office in early 2022, told lawmakers in March that he was reversing that approach. He said at the time he would assess applicants ‘on an individual basis according to the law and take into consideration the unique elements of each situation, practicing grace for those who need it and ensuring public safety for our community and families’—but he’s not said much else publicly since then, and his office did not respond to an request for comment for this story.
Now, Youngkin alone chooses which people with felony convictions get to vote, making Virginia’s policy on disenfranchisement uniquely harsh: it is the only state where someone who is convicted of any felony is presumed to be barred from voting for life.
Lawyers and voting rights advocates say Youngkin’s change has led to mass confusion about voting rights for formerly incarcerated Virgininans. People returning from prison say the policy makes them feel demoralized and even alienated from the rest of society.”
Utterly repulsive and cruel…again, for no good reason, other than Youngkin’s own cynical, political calculations. As Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney – who served as Secretary of the Commonwealth under Gov. Terry McAuliffe puts it:
“As the Secretary of the Commonwealth under Gov. McAuliffe we made sure Virginia was in the business of removing barriers to voting, not creating more. Under Gov. Youngkin, Virginia is moving backwards.”
But why would Youngkin behave so appallingly, even for political advantage? Perhaps, in the end, it’s as VA Sen. Mamie Locke explains:
“Locke and others have tried to ‘appeal to the governor’s heart’ on this, she said, with no apparent success to this point. ‘You have to have a heart in order for someone to appeal to it’.”
Yep – unfortunately, that pretty much sums it up about this guy.