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felon voting rights

Jagada Chambers was sent to prison for attempted second-degree murder in 2000. The story, as he tells it, was that he was on spring break with friends during college and got into a physical altercation with an acquaintance.

He was released four years later, in August 2004, and his understanding was that his voting rights were gone forever.

As Gov. Rick Scott’s Cabinet meets for its last clemency board meeting before the state’s general election, the conversation surrounding felon voting rights is ramping up. One amendment on the ballot could put a new restoration system in place.

At Florida's Capitol in Tallahassee, four times a year, dozens of anxious people gather to hear a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. Felons whose sentences and probation are complete stand before the governor and other Cabinet members to ask for clemency and the restoration of their right to vote.

After waiting for years, Joanne Calvarese made her case to the clemency board in June.

"I feel that I have paid my consequences," Calvarese said. "I know I don't deserve your mercy, but I beg you for it."

As an appellate court reviews an appeal by Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet in the battle for a new rights restoration scheme for felons, protesters rallied at the Capitol Thursday. Civil rights leaders urged support for a citizens’ initiative amendment on the ballot in November.

Federal District Court Judge Mark Walker has issued a deadline for Gov. Rick Scott to establish a new process for restoring ex-felons’ voting rights: April 26. 

ProCon.org

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Florida to devise a new way to decide when and how former prisoners can get their voting rights restored, saying Gov. Rick Scott and state officials can no longer rely on "whims, passing emotions, or perceptions" in that process.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker also blocked the state's current system of forcing most ex-felons to wait at least five years before they can ask to have their voting rights restored.

The system was put in place back in 2011 at the urging of Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Florida's legal battle over voting rights for ex-prisoners escalated on Monday, as the state and a voting rights organization representing former felons made dramatically different requests of a federal judge.

In a ruling that could have reverberations on this year's crucial elections, a federal judge Thursday ruled that Florida's current ban on former felons voting is unconstitutional and needs to be changed as soon as possible.

ProCon.org

Former felons could have their Florida voting rights restored under a proposed constitutional amendment headed to voters in November, a measure that could have a significant impact on a state known for historically close elections.

Proposals To Restore Felons' Voting Rights Move Forward

Jan 23, 2018

Two proposals that would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences were approved last week by a Florida Constitution Revision Commission panel.

Two CRC Proposals Tackling Felon Voting Rights Pass

Jan 22, 2018

Florida Felons have been fighting for the right to vote for years now, and while a grassroots petition movement within the state has spurred interest in the issue, two proposals in the Constitutional Revisions Commission look to tackle the controversy from another angle.

A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers is looking to create an alternative to restore the rights of former inmates.

The American Civil Liberties Union is vowing to plow $5 million into a felon  rights initiative now that organizers have cleared initial Florida Supreme Court review

YouTube

A man from Orlando by the name of Desmond Meade is a convicted drug offender who later turned his life around, got a law degree, and is now leading the charge to automatically restore voting rights to felons. Now, all he needs is 700,000 signatures on a petition to put it on next year's ballot.

An attempt to restore felons’ voting rights in Florida is getting a national boost this week. Comedian Samantha Bee of the TBS show Full Frontal sat down with Desmond Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Meade is behind a proposed ballot initiative that would automatically restore civil rights to felons. Here’s a portion of Bee’s segment.

Justices OK Felon Rights, Gambling Initiatives

Apr 21, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

In a pair of high-profile issues that could go on the ballot next year, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved proposed constitutional amendments that would restore felons' voting rights and restrict the expansion of gambling in the state.

TALLAHASSEE — Lawyers for convicted felons filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against Florida officials, alleging that the state's process for restoring voting rights to people who have completed their sentences is arbitrary.

Fewer felons are getting their voting rights restored under Governor Rick Scott than in the past two administrations. Attorney Brittnie Baker said Scott has denied her clients the right to once again vote because of traffic violations or admitting they drank or used drugs.