Quick Summary: Allows those who have completed their entire sentence to earn the right to vote back except for those convicted of murder or felony sex offenses.
Full Summary: Florida is one of four states that bar felons from voting after they’ve completed their sentences. The restriction on felon voting goes back to Florida’s post-Civil War 1868 Constitution, which included several measures designed to ensure Florida’s freed slaves could not exercise their right to vote.
The ex-felon provision was largely re-enacted in the state’s 1968 Constitution, and in the 1970s the courts affirmed the power of the governor and Cabinet to restore voting rights. Former Gov. Charlie Crist streamlined the rights restoration process and during his four-year term more than 150,000 felons were given the right to vote.
However, in 2011, newly elected Gov. Rick Scott, with the assent of the Cabinet, enacted strict new rules that included mandatory waits of five to seven years before ex-felons could apply to have their rights restored after serving out their sentences. Felons whose applications were rejected by the Cabinet are forced to wait two more years before reapplying.
As of 2017, six years after Scott imposed the new rules, about 30,000 ex-felons applied to have their rights restored. Of those, about 3,000 ex-felons had their rights restored by the Cabinet. About 10,000 applications for rights restoration are pending, and the Clemency Board – the governor and Cabinet – hear about 50 cases each quarter.
Today, some 1.6 million Floridians are disenfranchised. That’s the highest number in the nation and it accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total adult population in Florida.
This amendment would change the Constitution so that most ex-felons who have completed their full sentences, including paying fines, paying restitution, doing their prison time and completing parole or probation – would be granted the right to vote. It would not grant any other rights that ex-felons lose, including the ability to sit on a jury, hold public office or possess a firearm.