Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Says Restoring Felon's Voting Rights Was 'The Moral Thing To Do'

Pam Wright

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says his move to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons who have completed their sentences was the right thing to do and not a political move.

In an interview Sunday with ABC's This Week, McAuliffe said the move had nothing to do with politics despite claims by Republicans that signing the executive order was a blatant move to get votes for Hillary Clinton.

"It was the right thing to do legally. It wasn't politics. It was the right thing to do morally."

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 22, 2016

McAuliffe announced the decision on the steps of the state Capitol following a performance by a gospel choir.

"We benefit from a more just and accountable government when we put trust in all of our citizens to choose their leaders. It has taken Virginia many centuries, unfortunately, to learn this lesson. But today, we celebrate its truth."

In a statement, Republican Party of Virginia chairman John Whitbeck denounced the decision as "political opportunism."

"Restoration of rights should be a celebration of overcoming, not a transparent effort to win votes."

— TRUMPTRAIN (@OnlyHotyP) April 23, 2016

"It is hard to describe how transparent the Governor's motives are. The singular purpose of Terry McAuliffe's governorship is to elect Hillary Clinton president of the United States. This office has always been a stepping stone to a job in Hillary Clinton's Cabinet."
"I would tell them to be very careful how they frame this. They have an opportunity to go out and get these individual new voters to vote for them."

— New York Magazine (@NYMag) April 22, 2016

"There may be some individuals who will try and demagogue this issue and will make reckless accusations. Our action today does not pardon or change the sentence for any man or woman affected by this plan. These individuals have completed their sentences. They have atoned for their actions."

— Ron Hutchcraft™ (@Ron_Hutchcraft) April 23, 2016

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, roughly 5.85 million Americans with felony convictions are prevented from voting across the United States.

[Photo by AP Images]