Florida’s ban on ex-felons voting is unconstitutional and biased, federal judge rules

“Rick Scott has been irresponsibly denying former felons their civil rights for years — and it’s appalling to learn that appealing to Scott’s political party gives former felons a greater chance of getting their right to vote back,” said American Bridge spokesperson Joshua Karp. “The right to vote is the most sacred part of our Democracy, and Rick Scott’s partisan bias is a sign of just how corrupt and self-serving this governor really is.”

 

The Washington Post: Florida’s ban on ex-felons voting is unconstitutional and biased, federal judge rules

By Derek Hawkins | February 2, 2018

  • “In a blistering decision that could impact the 2018 midterm elections, a federal judge on Thursday ruled that Florida’s system for barring former felons from voting is unconstitutional and potentially tainted by racial, political or religious bias.”

  • “U.S. District Judge Mark Walker blasted the state panel led by Florida’s governor that decides whether to restore voting rights to people who have completed their sentences, saying their process is arbitrary and exceedingly slow.”

  • “The lawsuit was brought against Gov. Rick Scott (R) by a group of former felons in Florida who had completed their sentences but were denied voting rights by the state’s Office of Executive Clemency. They were supported by the Fair Elections Legal Network.”
  • “A number of factors can influence the clemency board’s decision, including drug and alcohol use as well as fuzzier elements such as ‘level of remorse.’ In some cases, traffic tickets have been enough for the board to deny re-enfranchisement. Those who are rejected can’t reapply for at least two years. There’s currently a 10,000-person backlog of applicants.”

  • “In one withering anecdote, Walker described the case of a white man who was convicted of casting an illegal ballot in 2010. When the man went before the board three years later, Scott asked him about his illegal voting. ‘Actually, I voted for you,’ the man said. Scott laughed and told him, ‘I probably shouldn’t respond to that.’ Seconds later, the governor ordered his voting rights restored, according to the ruling.”

  • “The judge said there were other examples where applicants ‘invoked their conservative beliefs and values to their benefit.’ And in other cases, he wrote, people who criticized felon disenfranchisement appeared less likely to receive clemency.”

Read the full story here.