In April, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order granting the right to vote to all Virginians who’d been convicted of felonies and subsequently completed their sentences. The order reversed Virginia’s previous policy of stripping the vote from all convicted felons for life—among the harshest disenfranchisement laws in the country—restoring eligibility to about 200,000 people. Republicans, arguing that this was all a ploy to secure more votes for Hillary in November, immediately set out trying to have the order overturned.
It turns out that they’ve got nothing to worry about. Politico reports that only 8,170 of the newly eligible voters have registered since April. The low turnout stems from a number of factors, not least of which is the failure of the state Democratic Party to engage with these new voters in any meaningful way.
The experiment to restore the vote to felons is mostly a bust so far, but at least the low turnout makes Republicans’ line of argument more difficult: Faced with an influx of voters that could swing a historically close presidential election state in their favor, the Democrats have done almost nothing with this potential advantage. If this is their idea of electioneering, they’re doing a pretty bad job of it. Maybe McAuliffe was only interested in the principle of the thing after all.