This returning citizen was sooo excited to be voting after 20 years! He voted early for the Presidential Primary at the Supervisor of Elections and sent this pic.
The Black Caucus also follows up with each registration to make sure it is either accepted by the Supervisor of Elections or the reason for non-acceptance is legitimate. Fines and fees remain a barrier.
Since 1868 the Florida Constitution has had a provision that people convicted of prior felonies could not vote. In 1968, 56% of Floridians voted to uphold that provision of the constiution. There was an Exeutive Clemency Board that could potentially restore voting rights, but under Gov. Rick Scott, the board met only quarterly for less that 100 cases each meeting. The few cases they approved disproportionally favored white people. In 2018, Amendment 4 addressed the problem head on.
"This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis."
In 2018, 64% of Floridian voters said YES to Amendment 4. It went into effect in January of 2019. An estimated 1.5 million returning citizens would now be allowed to vote.
Soon after Amendment 4's succeess, a bill passed by Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Disantis added language to include fines, fees and restitution to victims. Now only those who could afford to pay could vote - effectively a poll tax. One study estimated 775,000 ex-felons would not be eligible to vote because of the law.
A lawsuit was filed by more than two dozen ex-felons, the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters of Florida in US District Court. The judge later expanded the ruling to include all ex-felons in Florida. We await the outcome.
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