Ex-Felons Finally Getting Closer To Being Able To Vote In Florida

Florida is one of only 3 states in the country that permanently and unfairly bans anybody with a felony conviction from voting. The other two states are Iowa and Kentucky, where not a lot of people wanna live anyway.

But even those two states have made at least a few, though minor, improvements to their archaic systems to reflect changing times. Meanwhile, Florida–one of the biggest and most diverse states in the country–has made it even tougher for felons to vote in recent years.

That could change soon.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that Florida is violating the constitutional rights of over a million Floridians who have been convicted of a felony by making it extremely hard and damn near impossible for them to ever have a chance to have their civil rights restored, which includes the right to vote.

Currently, anybody in Florida who has ever been convicted of a felony must wait at least 5 years to apply for clemency, which is no guarantee since there’s a backlog of over 10,000 clemency applications dating back to 2007, according to reports.

And conservative Republican Governor Rick Scott, a Trump BFF, ain’t in no rush to hear any new cases.

Even if you do somehow get a hearing though, you’ll then have to kiss Scott’s ass and the asses of his Attorney General and two other state Cabinet Members, also Republicans, who comprise the Clemency Board. That’s basically what the federal judge who struck down the voting policy wrote. The judge said Scott could deny or approve your application for any reason at all.

The judge also said race and politics plays a part in the process Scott oversees as well.

The Clemency Board appears to be kangaroo court-ish: The governor holds veto power, and the Board only meets a couple of times a years and hears only a handful of cases when they do meet. Fewer than 10% of these applications are approved, and U.S. District Judge Mark Walker called Scott out on the bullshit, saying the current system Scott lords over “a scheme” that violates folks’ constitutional rights.

Walker ordered the State of Florida to come up with a new way to address felon voting rights by Monday. Governor Scott has indicated he would appeal if the judge rules in a way he doesn’t like.

Voting rights is a big problem for Black Floridians–close to 1/4 of whom are ineligible to vote under the current felon voting ban. That is over a million Black people who can’t vote, can’t run for office, AND, can’t sit on juries.

Meanwhile, an amendment to automatically restore voting rights for all ex-felons is on the November ballot in the state, but it needs the support of 60% of voters to pass.

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