Under the Florida Constitution, a convicted felon cannot vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office until their civil rights have been restored. When a person is convicted of a felony in Florida, he/she loses the right to vote, sit on a jury, hold public office, and possess a firearm. Felonies in Florida are punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison and classified as capital or life felonies; or felonies of the first, second, or third degree.
Under current Florida law a convicted felon can have their full civil rights (including voting rights) restored.
This is done by the Florida Commission on Offender Review, which was established in 1941. The Commission on Offender Review may grant a felon a full pardon, pardon with firearm authority, pardon for misdemeanor, commutation of sentence, remission of fines and forfeitures, specific authority to own, possess and use fire arms, restoration of civil rights and restoration of alien status under Florida law. The Commission’s website under the category Restoration of Civil Rights in Florida reads:
The Restoration of Civil Rights restores to an applicant all of the rights of citizenship in the State of Florida enjoyed before the felony conviction, except the specific authority to own, possess, or use firearms. Such restoration shall not relieve an applicant from the registration and notification requirements or any other obligations and restrictions imposed by law upon sexual predators or sexual offenders. [Emphasis added]
If their is already a pathway to restore the full civil rights of a convicted felon in Florida why is there a need for full amnesty?
Logic would tell Floridians that a convicted felon must prove his/her worthiness after serving their sentences before his/her civil rights (e.g. voting rights) are restored. Is the person actually worthy on a case by case basis to be granted any level of restoration without a thorough review by the Florida Commission on Offender Review?
Well Floridians will have an opportunity to decide this issue on November 6th, 2018. Value Bit News in a column titled “Florida Voters to Decide Whether 1.5 Million Felons Will Get Voting Rights Restored” notes:
The ballot initiative was started by the advocacy group Floridians for Fair Democracy, which obtained more than 799,000 signatures in a years-long petition drive to get state residents to vote on whether convicted felons should have the right to vote after serving time, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
[ … ]
If 60 percent of voters approve of the initiative, there would be an amendment to Florida’s constitution that would allow Floridians with felony convictions to vote after serving time — including probation or parole.
But not all convicted felons would be able to vote — those convicted of murder or sex crimes would not be eligible to have their voting rights restored.
Article VI, Section 4. Disqualifications.—
(a) No person convicted of a felony, or adjudicated in this or any other state to be mentally incompetent, shall be qualified to vote or hold office until restoration of civil rights or removal of disability. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, any disqualification from voting arising from a felony conviction shall terminate and voting rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation.
(b) No person convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense shall be qualified to vote until restoration of civil rights.
The Miami Herald reported that, “Research in a few states has shown that more felons after being released from prison register as Democrats than Republicans.”
Question: Who is behind this ballot initiative? Answer: Desmond Meade and Floridians for Fair Democracy.
Desmond Meade is a convicted drug offender felon. Meade plays the “victim card” when talking about restoring his “civil right” to vote as a convicted felon. His successful effort to put this amendment on the ballot was supported by groups like the Florida branch of the ACLU and Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
There is no report that our researchers can find that Meade ever petitioned the Florida Commission on Offender Review to have his voting rights be restored.
It will now be up to the legal voters of Florida to decide if a system established in 1941 needs to be overturned and all convicted felons should automatically, without review, have their right to vote be granted.