Gov. McDonnell Praised, Panned on Felons' Voting Rights

January 12, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Bob McDonnell is being praised by Democrats and the ACLU, groups that typically butt heads with him. And he's getting resistance from fellow conservative Republicans.

That's all because he is pushing legislation that would restore voting rights for nonviolent felons who have finished their sentences.

Democrats who have championed the idea in the past say they were surprised but happy when McDonnell advocated the proposal in his State of the Commonwealth speech.

But his suggestion is getting a chilly reception from many Republican legislators, especially in the House of Delegates, which is up for election in November. They say they prefer the current system, which gives the governor sole authority to restore rights after a case-by-case review.

Changing the process would require a constitutional amendment, which must be approved in two separate legislative sessions and then by the voters.

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