Dale E. Ho, the Director of the A.C.L.U.’s Voting Rights Project, wrote this Op-Ed in The New York Times.
The Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in a lawsuit that aims to strip the right to vote from more than 206,000 people, including one in five African-American adults in the State. If State lawmakers win, they will keep Virginia trapped in a shameful part of history: when former Confederate States passed felon disenfranchisement laws after Reconstruction to suppress black political power.
Under Virginia’s Constitution, a person with a single felony offense can’t vote unless the Governor restores his or her voting rights. This wasn’t always the case. Virginia’s 1870 Constitution, passed during Reconstruction, barred voting for those convicted of corruption or treason. But delegates to Virginia’s 1902 Constitutional Convention adopted new voting restrictions, including a ban on voting for all felons, poll taxes and a literacy test.
They were not shy about their intentions. Virginia’s new Constitution would “eliminate the darkey as a political factor,” explained Carter Glass, a Convention Delegate and, later as a United States Senator, an author of the Glass-Steagall Banking law. Their goal was to ensure “complete supremacy of the white race in the affairs of government.”
CLICK HERE to read the entire Op-Ed.
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