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Is Florida Stalling the Restoration of Voting Rights To Ex-Felons?


We’ve previously discussed the importance of restoring ex-felons’ voting rights here in Florida. In November, voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to felons who have been deprived of these basic civil rights for decades in one of the last states to automatically eliminate that right without the realistic ability of getting it back. These voting rights were supposed to become active as of January 8, 2019.

However, unfortunately, a number of state election officials, lawmakers, and the incoming Governor Ron DeSantis have now indicated that there are a number of measures and steps that must be taken before any of these voting rights are actually afforded to ex-felons—even though, as many civil rights advocates have pointed out—the language is arguably very clear in stating that “voting rights shall be restored.” In fact, the language was crafted for over a year and a half precisely so that it was self-executing—i.e., so that there was no room for politicians to insert their own agendas into it.

A History of Issues with Citizen Initiatives in Florida

This could have an impact on thousands of people’s civil rights in the states, as local elections take place as early as February. Meanwhile, any legislation passed by the Florida State Legislature regarding how the ballot amendment is implemented would have to pass by the Ethics and Elections Committee first. And it does not help that a number of citizen ballot initiatives that have passed in Florida have been stalled or overtaken by the state government, which then takes time to overturn in the courts.

So, what, specifically, are some of these politicians claiming needs to be parceled out before the initiative can technically become effective? According to some, the counties will need to decide how to figure out those who can now vote from those who still cannot, for example, previously-convicted sex offenders and murderers will still not be allowed to vote.

New Law in Florida Allows Cross-Checking With Out-Of-State Voter Rolls

It is also important to note that Florida also now has a new law that allows local election supervisors to access and check voter logs/rolls in other states. While election officials claim that this is being done to ensure that voters voting in Florida are not also registered and voting in other states, some are concerned that this could open up a new excuse to turn voters away at the polls.

Contact Our Florida Civil Rights Attorneys Today

It is crucial that ex-felons whose civil voting rights have been restored demand that they be afforded those rights. If your civil rights have been violated here in Florida, contact our experienced Florida civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.



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