Artur Davis Wants Voting Rights Restored for Former Felony Offenders

Is the former congressman who once supported voter ID laws changing his tune?

By Brentin Mock Aug 16, 2013

Artur Davis, the black former congressman whose political career tumbled after a disastrous, center-right campaign for Alabama governor, is advocating for voting rights restoration for former felony offenders. Davis disappeared from the limelight after he was trounced in the 2010 gubernatorial Alabama Democratic primary race, only to emerge later as a cheerleader for voter ID laws, which many elections experts say are an infringement of voting rights. 

But in an interview with Dave Weigel at Slate, Davis not only offered support for rights restoration for ex-felons, but he also had some choice words for his pro-voter ID colleagues.

On former felon voting rights, Davis told Weigel:

"Republicans should be aligned with the movement to restore voting rights to nonviolent released felons as long as they are complying with conditions of supervised release. …No conservative ought to have a principled objection to an ex-felon being able to earn his way back into being a full-fledged citizen."

On voter ID, Davis said:

"The voter ID movement has been damaged by extremists who argue that Obama somehow stole both elections, or clowns like the Pennsylvania legislator who bragged with no evidence to support the notion that a voter ID law would kill Democrats in Pennsylvania."

On the ex-felon voting rights restoration front, state Sen. Elbert Guillory, the black Louisiana state legislator who was over-pleased with the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act gutting, also pledged support, according to Weigel.

It’s not surprising that Davis supports rights restoration. He currently resides in Virginia, where Republican Party leaders have been trending in this direction, particularly Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has pledged to restore the rights of all former non-violent felony offenders on a case-by-case basis. Davis is expected to run for Congress from Virginia, so he could be simply toeing the party line there. 

As for his criticism of those "extremists who argue that Obama somehow stole both elections," it should be noted that Davis has spent plenty of time in the company of those extremists. Last year, he served as speaker and panelist for events orchestrated by anti-voting rights extremists True the Vote and Judicial Watch, both of which believe Obama won due to voter fraud. Judicial Watch head Tom Fritton claims that Obama won with the help of fraudulent votes from a "food stamp army" and "illegal aliens" — comments made in Davis’ presence without his objection.