Yesterday I wrote that the Virginia Democratic Party’s statement on Gov. McDonnell’s requirement that felons submit an essay to have their rights restored was poor positioning. Fortunately, other Democrats had better ideas—along the lines I suggested.
The Legislative Black Caucus in Richmond has the right focus.
In a statement, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said: “Governor McDonnell’s decision to use the executive power granted to him to transform the restoration of voting rights from an objective process to a subjective one that is contingent on an original essay for nonviolent offenders is taking a horrific step back towards the era of Jim Crow.“
Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said in a statement that the governor “appears to have reinstated the literacy test in Virginia” and that for people with limited education, the new requirement “is a nearly insurmountable obstacle.“
In the Virginian-Pilot that same positioning, while not a quote, held sway with the reporter.
Critics of the letter-writing concept have said it is reminiscent of literacy tests once conducted at polls to bar minorities from voting.
The only place the Democratic Party’s positioning on the issue appeared in yesterday’s rundown of stories in the commonwealth was on The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics Blog.
In the AP story, there was no mention of the Democrats position at all. Again, it was up to the ACLU to get it right.
The American Civil Liberties Union accused the Republican governor Monday of imposing upon convicts the same Jim Crow tactic used to prevent black people from voting.
"The Governor appears to have reinstated the literacy test in Virginia," Virginia ACLU executive director Kent Willis said in a statement.
Another endemic problem with Virginia Democrats is the lack of message cohesion. In addition to the Black Caucus and Democratic Party HQ issuing statements, we have another angle from two legislators, including the House Caucus Chairman and Minority Leader.
"By requiring nonviolent offenders to submit an essay, Governor McDonnell is returning to a ‘blank sheet’ voter registration system that in the past disenfranchised many African American voters," Plum said. "By creating an additional, unnecessary and egregious hurdle, McDonnell has violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the Federal Voting Rights Act."
Folks, you may want to talk to one another.