Morning Read: In Virginia, 350,000 Felons Without Voting Rights

A new study found that more than 350,000 Virginians — and almost 6 million Americans — cannot vote because of felony convictions.

According to the RTD, the Sentencing Project study found that in 2010, one in every 40 adults in the country were disenfranchised because of felony convictions. One in every 13 African Americans of voting age were disenfranchised.

In Virginia, 20 percent of adult African Americans cannot vote, which is the third-highest rate in the U.S. Florida has the highest rate.

Only the governor in Virginia can restore voting rights and, according to the RTD, Gov. McDonnell has restored voting rights to 3,100 people—a pace which will ultimately exceed his past two predecessors.

But Virginia is one of just two states that require the governor to restore voting rights. The ACLU and others have argued that voting rights should automatically be restored after felons complete their sentences.

* President Obama will push his economic plan during his two-day campaign swing through Virginia which kicks-off today.

He will make six stops, according to the Washington Examiner, staring in Virginia Beach and ending in Fairfax County.

* Gov.Martin O'Malley has two days of meetings scheduled with key state leaders early next week that could determine whether he decides to call a special session on gambling expansion this summer, according to The Baltimore Sun.

On Monday, he plans to meet with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett to see how far they are willing to go in helping pass legislation that would add a new casino in Prince George's.

The next morning the governor will meet with House Speaker Michael E. Buschand Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller—a meeting which would likely determine whether a special session is called.

* Congress passed legislation late Thursday that would shorten the number of days in the District that a seat must be vacant before the Board of Elections can schedule a special election.

The measure would give the District between 70 and 174 days from a vacancy to hold a special election.

Read more from NBC here.

*As the story of Vincent Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign unravels, D.C. residents and officials have been calling for his resignation and, for a few minutes today, he seemed to have stepped down from his post sooner than even his biggest critics had thought possible.

D.C.-based Capitol Correspondent, owned by the Voice of Russia, had the scoop of the day when it announced that sources said Gray is about to resign.

The scoop generated a lot of the traffic for the little-known site and, according to WCP, 10,000 people visited the site, causing it to crash.

The only problem was that the story wasn’t true.

WCP looked into this local version of the CNN says health care was struck down-esque error and reported that a spokesperson from Gray’s campaign called the web editor to say that the mayor was not in fact resigning.

Capitol Correspondent now has an update on the top of its post that says “Mayor Gray announced to reporters that he will not resign and a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office denied a source’s claim that the mayor intended to resign today.”

The site’s editor, who also happened to write the post, told WCP that he had a reliable source and, if given the opportunity to go back in time, he would write the same story again.

ICYMI: Read Chuck Thies piece on why Gray should stay in office.

* The Green Party is kicking-off its three day convention in Baltimore today and hundreds of delegates will be there to pick the third-party’s presidential nomination.

Physician Jill Stein is the presumptive nominee, but actress Roseanne Barr is also vying for the spot.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Green Party has struggled to get on the ballot in Maryland and needs to collect 10,000 signatures by Aug. 6 to qualify.

* The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee scheduled a hearing next week to decide whether the District should ease its building height restrictions.

Back in March, according to The Post, Mayor Gray and oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa discussed the possibility of easing D.C.’s strict building height limits in order to spur economic development.

* Legislators from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are asking the Maryland Public Service Commission to fine two power companies more than $100 million each to pay for a reserve of utility workers during emergencies, according to The Washington Times.

Two Democrat senators, Jim Rosapepe and Brian Frosh, wrote to the service commission chairman, urging his agency “to hold the utilities accountable, to provide powerful financial incentives for them to modernize, and to make sure last week’s crisis is never repeated.”

* The Virginia Department of Education is apparently looking into a testing irregularity that teachers committed at a Fairfax elementary school.

According to the Washington Examiner, teachers required students to fill out their test booklets with answers before transferring them to the answer-sheet, which is against state testing policy because it could lead to bubbling mistakes.

Teachers also in some instances made sure students answered every question on the test before transferring their responses to the answer sheet.

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