GOT A FELONY? LIVE IN FLORIDA? YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE!
By Michael Peltier
The News Service of Florida
August 1, 2012
More than 13,000 ex-felons may be eligible to vote but don’t know it according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, citing data it obtained from the Florida Parole Commission.
The ACLU said the commission is sitting on more than 17,000 Restoration of Civil Rights certificates that would notify former felons that they can now register to vote, but which have not reached their intended recipients. The civil rights group cross- checked the names on those certificates with voter registration lists and found that 13,571 of them are not registered voters, presumably because many of them don’t know they’ve been cleared to register.
Florida is one of a minority of U.S. states that does not automatically restore civil rights once a felon has completed a sentence. The certificates were sent between 2007 and March 2011, during which time a change in policy spearheaded by former Gov. Charlie Crist allowed non-violent ex-felons to have their rights automatically restored. The policy was repealed in March 2011 after Florida Gov. Rick Scott and newly elected members of the Florida Cabinet voted to eliminate automatic restoration and again make it more difficult for ex-felons to get their civil rights, including the right to vote, restored.
Tammy Salmon, a parole commissioner administrative assistant, said the figures were correct and reflect certificates mailed to recipients who could not be found and left no forwarding address. In some cases, the agency made “multiple attempts” to make contact, but to no avail, she said. Notices the parole board mailed to them were returned as undeliverable according to ACLU.
The parole commission’s website – https://fpcweb.fpc.state.fl.us/ – allows viewers to search to see if an ex-offender’s rights have been restored. Since eligible residents must register by Oct. 9 to vote in the general election in November 2012, time is of the essence. Let others know they need only check the link to find out if they are now eligible to register to vote.