Judge: Florida’s system for restoring felon voting rights unconstitutional
Florida’s lifetime ban on restoring voting rights for felons violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker determined the state’s voting restoration process relies on personal support from Gov. Rick Scott in order for a felon to regain “this fundamental right,” according to our news partners at the Tampa Bay Times.
The governor’s office issued a quick response.
“The discretion of the clemency board over the restoration of felons’ rights in Florida has been in place for decades and overseen by multiple governors,” the office said. “The process is outlined in Florida’s Constitution, and today’s ruling departs from precedent set by the United States Supreme Court.
“The Governor believes that convicted felons should show that they can lead a life free of crime and be accountable to their victims and our communities. While we are reviewing today’s ruling, we will continue to defend this process in the court.”
The ruling comes less than two weeks after the state approved a ballot measure, that if passed in November, would restore the voting rights for about 1.2 million felons.
The current process, passed in 2011, imposed a waiting period of five to seven years before felons could apply to have their voting rights restored.