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Republican lawmakers in Virginia are planning to sue Governor Terry McAuliffe because he overturned a 150-year-old law giving more than 200,000 convicted felons in the state of Virginia the right to vote.

Governor McAuliffe says he has the legal and the moral authority to take action and argues that according to the Virginia constitution:

“The Governor shall have power to remove political disabilities consequent upon conviction.”

According to the department of elections, they’ve already seen an impact from the governor’s order, with nearly 2,100 newly registered voters.

Senator Mamie Locke (D-VA) spoke with Roland Martin on NewsOne Now about the controversy surrounding Gov. McAuliffe’s decision to restore the voting rights of the 200,000 ex-felons who have paid their debt to society.

Sen. Locke said, “There are still individuals in this state who believe that folks who have served their time, paid all of their fines, and have done everything that they’ve had to do still have to be penalized.”

In response to Republican claims that McAuliffe does not have the authority to restore voting rights to the former convicts, Locke said, “That is totally incorrect, the governor has the absolute authority under the constitution to restore civil rights to Virginians.”

NewsOne Now panelist Randa Fahmy believes Republicans in Virginia assume “these former-felons will somehow all vote Democratic.” She added, “Maybe the Republican Party ought to look at that and think somewhat differently.”

Fahmy explained the Republican outrage over McAuliffe’s move is a result of the blanket restorations of voting rights.

Sen Locke said, “In 2008, African-Americans turned out overwhelmingly in Virginia for the first time since 1964 voted for a Democrat.”

“There were efforts in this state between that time and 2012 to come up with every manner to disenfranchise voters by enacting voter ID laws,” Locke said. “It didn’t work, in 2012 Virginia once again voted Democratically.”

According to Sen. Locke, Virginia Republicans think, “Since the governor did this — somehow the state is once again going to vote for a Democrat for president of the United States. That is the fear, that somehow these 206,000 individuals are going to vote for a Democrat.”

Locke highlighted the fact that “voters are not flocking to the polls” and our country is experiencing a period of low voter turnout. “You would think you would want individuals voting in this country, somehow Republicans don’t want that,” said Locke.

She later added, “Republicans are trying to find every way to enact or erect barriers to voting.”

Watch Roland Martin, Senator Mamie Locke and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the controversy over Gov. Terry McAuliffe restoring the voting right of more than 200,000 ex-felons in the video clip above.

TV One’s NewsOne Now has moved to 7 A.M. ET, be sure to watch “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.

SEE ALSO:

Virginia Gov. Responds To Critics After Restoring Voting Rights To Felons

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