In this American life, we are like children stumbling through a dark forest, blindly following one of a thousand possible paths, using only the dim moonlight to find our way to the next clearing. There is no specific destination, but there are dangers. Dangers everywhere.

Witches haunt these woods.

Every child in this hiking group is, of course, free to choose his or her own path, but in a larger sense, we are all on the same journey, and we all have a very small say in which direction the group goes. We choose our scoutmasters.

We also decide who gets to decide. We don’t get a lot of leeway here; the charter for this journey outlines the limits of our exclusion. Those limits, though, are as important to the integrity of our journey as anything else. We have decided, by law and by tradition, to tread cautiously when it comes to letting rogue members of the group weigh in on the future of our journey. The U.S. Constitution, as part of the 14th Amendment, allows each state to remove an individual’s right to vote if they have engaged “in a rebellion, or other crime.”

In Virginia, the people decided to do just that. There may not be many convicted rebels waiting to vote in the 2016 election, but there are plenty of convicted criminals. 206,000 of them, to be exact. These felons, having done their time, want to regain the right to vote. They want to once again have a say in which direction our motley crew travels.

Should they? Well, in this instance, it’s up to the people of Virginia.

But that’s not what Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe thinks. The state Supreme Court blocked him from restoring the voting rights of convicted felons in one fell swoop, but McAuliffe has vowed to go through each of Virginia’s 206,000 felons one by one and give them back their voting rights on an individual basis. On Monday, the Democrat announced that he had made his way through the first 13,000.

“Restoring the rights of Virginians who have served their time and live, work, and pay taxes in our communities is one of the pressing civil rights issues of our day,” said McAuliffe in a statement. “I have met these men and women and know how sincerely they want to contribute to our society as full citizens again.”

There’s only one “contribution” McAuliffe is interested in, and it’s the tendency for convicted felons to be overwhelmingly black and vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. For Virginia’s citizens, the fear is that these newly re-enfranchised voters will lead the state – and, by extension, the country – down a suspicious path. A path that might lead to a foreboding impasse, a deadly field of nightshade, or a hungry pack of wolves.

Or, perhaps, one that leads directly to a witch.