Picking April's Fool is seldom easy but in what's left of this month it's hard to see anybody beating out Virginia's newly elected Republican governor Robert McDonnell.
McDonnell first surfaced as a contender last week when he issued a proclamation that April would be Confederate History Month in the state. The proclamation included no reference to slavery. This, of course, is like issuing a statement about World War II without ever mentioning Hitler. All sorts of people objected, including President Obama and former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, both of whom happen to be black. McDonnell later apologized and rewrote the proclamation, which proves, at least, that he reads his mail.
Now he has ruled that non-violent felons can't simple have their voting rights restored when they are released from prison but must write an essay outlining their contributions to society since their release. The governor may not be old enough to remember, but I am, the dark days when Southern states routinely denied blacks the right to vote. They had many methods--you had to pay a poll tax here, cops beat you if you tried to register there. In some states you had to write an essay or some such thing about the right to vote.
Blacks went to segregated schools which were worse than the white ones, of course. But even if Thomas Jefferson had written their essays they'd have failed. The object was simply to keep the electoral rolls lily white.
Most states let felons vote once they've been released. Only Virginia and Kentucky require the governor to approve restoration of voting rights. In Virginia felons convicted of non-violent crimes can apply to have their rights restored by filling out a one-page form. No essay.
Come on, Governor. This is the Commonwealth of Virginia, not the state university, not even Jim Crow University. No essays, please.
The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy.