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McAuliffe moves forward with restoration of voter rights despite Republican efforts

MCLEAN, VA - NOVEMBER 05:  Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Virginia Terry McAuliffe and his son Peter leave a polling station after he casted his vote on Election Day November 5, 2013 at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean, Virginia. McAuliffe is running against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general of Virginia, to succeed Bob McDonnell to be the next Virginia governor.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

MCLEAN, VA - NOVEMBER 05: Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Virginia Terry McAuliffe and his son Peter leave a polling station after he casted his vote on Election Day November 5, 2013 at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean, Virginia. McAuliffe is running against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general of Virginia, to succeed Bob McDonnell to be the next Virginia governor. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Supreme Court denied a motion by Virginia Republicans which attempted to prevent the governor from restoring the rights of felons who have served their time.

The motion was in response to a plan outlined by Governor Terry McAuliffe on August 22, when he said he would individually restore the rights of thousands of former felons.

The governor had previously issued a sweeping executive order restoring the voting rights of 13,000 citizens, in April. These orders were challenged in court, and the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in Howell v. McAuliffe that the governor’s order violated the state constitution.

Virginia Republicans had hoped the court would find McAuliffe’s new approach in contempt.

McAuliffe will move forward with the restoration process, with the voter registration deadline around the corner, on Oct. 17.

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has dismissed the case Republicans filed in their latest attempt to prevent individuals who have served their time having a full voice in our society,” McAuliffe wrote in a statement. “Restoring these Virginians’ civil rights is morally the right thing to do, and we will continue to move forward via a process that is in full compliance with the court’s July 22nd ruling and the precedent of previous governors.”

The governor added that he hoped Republicans would discontinue “divisive efforts to prevent Virginians from regaining their voting rights and focus their energy and resources on making Virginia a better place to live for the people who elected all of us to lead.”

House Speaker William Howell issued a statement which maintained the governor stretched his power, and said that Republicans were disappointed with the outcome.

“The governor stretched the bounds of the Virginia Constitution and sought to expand executive power in a manner we viewed as inappropriate and reckless,” Howell said. “The Supreme Court strongly rebuked the governor’s executive overreach in the original case.”