voting rights

Republicans running to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi would continue with the state’s legal approach to defending a controversial process for restoring felons’ voting rights.

But Democrats seeking the state Cabinet post oppose Bondi’s handling of the legal battle and support a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters in November, would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences.

Florida does not have to change its system for restoring the voting rights of felons -- for now.

As an appellate court reviews an appeal by Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet in the battle for a new rights restoration scheme for felons, protesters rallied at the Capitol Thursday. Civil rights leaders urged support for a citizens’ initiative amendment on the ballot in November.

Steve Bousquet / Miami Herald

Florida’s antiquated system of restoring voting rights to felons is battered but not broken — which means that most felons probably won’t be able to cast ballots in this fall’s elections.

A federal appeals court stepped in at the last minute Wednesday and approved Gov. Rick Scott’s request to block a lower court’s order to replace the system, a day before Scott and the three elected Cabinet members faced a deadline to enact new rules for restoring felons’ rights.

Joe Reedy / AP via Miami Herald

Siding with Gov. Rick Scott and the other members of the Board of Executive Clemency, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday blocked a federal judge’s order that would have required state officials to overhaul Florida’s process of restoring felons’ voting rights by Thursday.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Awaiting a decision from an appellate court, Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled a Wednesday night meeting of the state’s Board of Executive Clemency to address a federal judge’s order that the state revamp its process of restoring felons’ voting rights by Thursday.

Scott late Tuesday directed the board --- comprised of the governor and the three Florida Cabinet members, including Attorney General Pam Bondi --- to meet at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday if the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals does not grant the state’s request to block U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s order.

Days after Attorney General Pam Bondi filed an appeal of District Judge Mark Walker’s ruling the Clemency Board must overhaul Florida’s voting rights restoration process for felons, Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott are unflinching in defense of their position.

Gov. Scott Appeals Ruling On Voting Rights For Felons

Apr 4, 2018
Miami Herald Archive

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Wednesday continued battling a judge’s ruling that would require the state to overhaul the controversial process for restoring ex-felons’ voting rights, taking the case to a federal appeals court.

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed a notice of appeal at the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Also, it requested a stay of an order by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that gave the state an April 26 deadline for making changes to the rights-restoration process.

On Nov. 8, 2016, Crystal Mason got out of work and drove through the rain to her home in Dallas. She walked through the door and tried to settle in for the evening. But her mother delivered something akin to a scolding.

"You have to go vote!" Mason's mother said, according to her attorney, J. Warren St. John, who spoke to NPR.

CRC Weighs Felon Voting Rights Proposal

Mar 9, 2018

A proposal that could’ve changed the way felons’ rights are restored was withdrawn the Constitution Revision Commission Thursday, leaving a broken system intact for now. But it’s not the final say on the issue.

JMV0586 / FLICKR

Florida's legal battle over voting rights for ex-prisoners escalated on Monday, as the state and a voting rights organization representing former felons made dramatically different requests of a federal judge.

Lawyers who have sued Florida want U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to order the automatic restoration of voting rights to anyone who has been out of prison at least five years. Walker ruled earlier this month that the state's system of restoring voting rights to felons who have served their time is arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Miami Herald File

For the first time in Florida history, voters will decide whether to grant the right to vote to an estimated 1.5 million convicted felons.

Proposals To Restore Felons' Voting Rights Move Forward

Jan 22, 2018
Vaguely Artistic / Flickr/Creative Commons

Two proposals that would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences were approved last week by a Florida Constitution Revision Commission panel.

In a 6-2 vote, the commission’s Ethics and Elections Committee approved a measure (Proposal 7), sponsored by former Sen. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, that would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their prison time and completed any probation or parole requirements. Felons convicted of murder or sexual offenses would be excluded.

When Sen.-elect Doug Jones, D-Ala., addressed his cheering supporters Tuesday night in Birmingham, Ala., one of his first shout-outs went to his African-American supporters. As well it should have.

On most days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mary Grimes can be found pacing along a crowded street in Orlando, Fla., with clipboards in both hands.

"Can I have five minutes of your time?" the 58-year-old says to a parade of passers-by. Those who are in a rush, she quickly wishes well; the others, Grimes directs to a blue and yellow form, reciting her spiel and soliciting a signature from each.

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