orida’s lifetime ban preventing former felons from voting has been overturned, and now Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet have been ordered to replace the existing voter restoration rights system by April 26.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled in favor of the Fair Elections Legal Network after they filed suit against the state last year, pressing the state to redraw the current clemency system.
Scott’s spokesman John Tupps release the governor’s office’s defense of the existing system:
“Officials elected by Floridians, not judges, have the authority to determine Florida’s clemency process for convicted felons… “This is outlined in Florida’s Constitution and has been in place for more than a century and under multiple gubernatorial administrations.”
Tupps then added that Scott “believes that people who have been convicted of felony offenses, including crimes like murder, violence against children and domestic violence, should demonstrate that they can live a life free of crime while being accountable to our communities.”
But while the restoration of rights for felons who have already done their time in prison appears to be widely supported, the issue has become centered on race.
Convicted felons come from races, but the overwhelming majority are black. Because of this statistic, legislators from around the country have pointed at the criminal court system as being a system that unfairly targets African Americans.
Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D) just echoed that sentiment by invoking “Jim Crow” in her latest tweet regarding this federal court ruling in Florida.
🚨Great news: Federal Court orders #Florida Gov Rick Scott to end #votingrights discrimination. Scott unlawfully sanctioned horrendous #JimCrow disenfranchisement in Sunshine State and now, thankfully, court ends dark chapter in FL history @ACLUFL @NAACP @The_VRI @BrennanCenter https://t.co/08wufKNEpi
— US Rep Kathy Castor (@USRepKCastor) March 27, 2018
A measure of restoring felon’s rights will already be on the ballot later this year after some 1 million Floridians signed a petition to restore felon’s rights.
Considering its popularity, the measure should pass when Floridian’s go to vote in November.