ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - On Monday, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced he signed nearly 13,000 individual executive orders restoring voting rights to ex-felons in Virginia. The move comes after the Virginia Supreme Court struck down McAuliffe's initial executive order calling it unconstitutional.
Louis Graham was among the nearly 200,000 ex-felons left in limbo after the Virginia Supreme Court's decision struck down McAuliffe's initial executive order. Now the Roanoke business owner hopes this latest push sticks and allows him to restore his civil rights.
"It takes me to the next level," said Graham. "It makes a big change in my life."
Supporters said the plan gives ex-felons a second chance to be productive citizens. Graham is one of roughly 200 ex-felons in Roanoke hoping to get that second chance and do something this November they've waited a long time to do -- vote.
"If I'm able to vote, it's something I haven't done in a long time," he said.
Republican House Speaker William Howell said in the last few months Governor McAuliffe has made a number of mistakes but feels this process is a better solution. He released a statement saying, "Virginians believe in second chances and that is why our Constitution established an individualized process to restore the political rights of those who are deserving."
Governor McAuliffe plans to restore more voting rights on an individual basis. For transparency, the state said it will release the names of those individuals each month.