Florida Governor Wins Battle Restore Voting Rights to Most Ex-Offenders

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has won the battle against state Attorney General Bill McCollum to restore civil rights, including the right to vote, to most ex-offenders.

Florida officials on Thursday voted to end the practice of stripping ex-criminal offenders of their civil rights, including the right to vote. Florida is one of just three U.S. states, all in the Deep South, that have maintained long-standing constitutional barriers to restoring civil rights to those that have committed serious crimes, rights groups say.

Meeting in a special session, the Florida Clemency Board agreed by a 3-1 vote to allow some 950,000 ex-felons to automatically have their civil rights restored, removing a barrier that goes back 140 years.

Jeb Bush opposed automatic restoration. Crist made it a campaign pledge.


Crist’s predecessor, fellow Republican Jeb Bush, opposed automatic restoration. But Crist has called the failure to restore rights a legacy of the era of “unjust” anti-black Jim Crow laws of the racially segregated south.

Civil rights groups note that, compared to the general population, felons are more likely to be from lower income and minority groups, which traditionally vote Democratic.

Florida can now join the ranks of states that provide second chances. The ex-offender's task force final report of November, 2006 is here. (pdf)

< John Edwards Should Support Reid-Feingold | Where are the Democratic Candidates on the Drug War? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    A baby step (none / 0) (#1)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 01:23:13 PM EST
    But what was the source of many of those disenfranchisements? The racially motivated drug laws.

    This is just a band-aid on a sucking chest wound; unless and until the drug laws, themselves are changed, the system in the vast majority of States will merrily continue to politically marginalize those whose only crime is getting caught possessing something on an arbitrarily-derived substance list. And the vast majority of them are people of color. A fact which cannot be lost on certain political party operatives...who don't want those laws changed, or those ex-felons politically re-enfranchised, given whom they might vote for.

    It's still good news. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 04:27:39 PM EST

    Very cool..... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 05:48:12 PM EST
    indeed.  Almost a million people, not to shabby.

    I support giving all ex-cons getting the right to vote back the day they open the gates.  I think it is a right of all citizens, not a priveledge.

    Getting Better All The Time (none / 0) (#4)
    by john horse on Fri Apr 06, 2007 at 06:10:54 AM EST
    In his first months in office Crist seems to want to go out of his way to prove that he is not Jeb.  Its strange to see Florida politics mentioned in a positive light in blogs like Talkleft but I like it.  

    By the way I'm sure that if Crist was a Democrat you would see comments about that he was only doing this for partisan reasons.  It turns out that this was an issue of doing what was right and it was Jeb Bush who was being partisan.