For the first time in American history, a U.S. Governor will issue an executive order to give voting rights back to over 200,000 convicted felons.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will issue an executive order Friday to extend voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons, The New York Times reports.
The order allows felons who have served their prison time and finished parole to register to vote, reversing a Civil War-era provision in Virginia’s Constitution.
McAuliffe said prohibiting felons from voting in the state mostly disenfranchises African-Americans.
“There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans — we should remedy it,” McAuliffe said Thursday, according to the Times.
Maine and Vermont are the only two states without voting restrictions on felons. Virginia, Kentucky, Florida and Iowa are among the states that impose the harshest restrictions.
Virginia will be a battleground state in the upcoming presidential election. The state has trended toward Democrats in recent years, with President Obama winning it in 2008 and 2012.
McAuliffe is a long-time ally of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and served as chairman of her campaign in 2008.