In the days before the crucial General Assembly elections in Virginia, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration admitted that it mistakenly removed nearly 3,400 qualified voters from the state’s database, a significant increase from their initial estimate of 270. This revelation comes just weeks before the November 7th elections, which will have substantial implications for the political future of the state.
According to the governor’s administration, these 3,400 voters were removed due to a technical error where the state’s computer software incorrectly counted probation violations as new felonies, thereby disqualifying these individuals from voting. However, local registrars have reportedly reinstated all but around 100 of these voters, who had been convicted of felonies, had their voting rights restored, and subsequently violated their probation.
The “purge” raised further questions about Youngkin’s intentions and commitment to election integrity among Democrats, who have accused the administration of mishandling the situation and not safeguarding voting rights. Democratic State Senator Scott Surovell tweeted, “This is what happens when you put an election denier Governor in charge of voting.”
Governor Youngkin has requested the state’s inspector general to investigate the voter removals and the possibility that individuals with restored rights remained on the rolls after subsequent felony convictions. Virginia has a policy of disenfranchising those with felony convictions, except when the governor restores their civil rights. The ACLU of Virginia is concerned that eligible voters could be deterred from voting due to this incident. There is also no way of ensuring that the administration is being transparent about the number of voters removed.
The election in Virginia has incredibly high stakes, as Republicans are aiming to retake the majority in the House and Senate to further Gov. Youngkin’s conservative agenda. This could mean a rollback on abortion rights as well as the Equal Rights Amendment. Virginians have to make sure their voice is heard in this election.
Go to https://www.elections.virginia.gov/ to find information about your voter registration status and polling locations.