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Unfazed by Va. Supreme Court ruling, McAuliffe says he’ll restore voting rights one-by-one

PHILADELPHIA – Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) remains steadfast in his quest to restore the voting rights of more than 200,000 ex-felons.

In the wake of Friday's Supreme Court of Virginia ruling that declared McAuliffe didn't have the authority to restore felons' voting rights en masse, McAuliffe countered today by saying he'll restore the rights one-by-one.

“By two weeks, all 206,000 will have their rights back, folks,” McAuliffe told a rowdy crowd at the Democratic National Convention Virginia delegation breakfast here Monday morning.

“They said I had to do it individually, I'm doing it individually,” the governor said to reporters after his speech. “It's easy as that.”

A political tussle has ensued since McAuliffe's sweeping executive order in April that restored the voting rights 206,000 ex-felons in Virginia. State Republicans claimed McAuliffe's order was a blatant political play aimed at securing more votes for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, a close friend of McAuliffe's. GOP leaders sued the governor over his order, and hailed Friday's decision.

“Our nation was founded on the principles of limited government and separation of powers,” Virginia House Speaker William Howell and Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment said in a statement. “Those principles have once again withstood assault from the executive branch. This opinion is a sweeping rebuke of the governor's unprecedented assertion of executive authority,"

After the Virginia delegation breakfast, McAuliffe touched on the Democratic National Committee email leak controversy and the forthcoming resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Through emails released by WikiLeaks, Schultz's DNC was revealed to essentially by favoring Clinton in her primary contest with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt).

A former DNC chairman himself, McAuliffe said he felt bad for Wasserman Schultz, but her decision to step down at the end of the convention is the right one.

“I was chair of the national party. I ran a very contested primary in 2004. You have to be a neutral arbitrator,” McAuliffe said. “You cannot allow folks inside to try to shift the game at all. Some of the emails were insulting. The right action was taken, and I think we're done with it. Now we have to move forward.”

As for Schultz's replacement, McAuliffe said “it's very important they have diversity at the top of the party.”


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