TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – On the last day to register to vote before Florida’s August 30 primary, a group of community leaders including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Congresswoman Kathy Castor are calling on Governor Rick Scott to allow more Floridians the chance to vote.
“We have nearly 1.5 million individuals in Florida who have lost the right to vote due to a felony conviction. They’re back in our community. They deserve a second chance. It is very hard for them to be able to get their rights restored,” Joyce Hamilton-Henry of the ACLU of Florida said.
“About 25 percent of our African American population has been disenfranchised,” Congressman Kathy Castor said. “A few years ago Governor Crist and the cabinet had a process for clemency and restoration of voting rights and unfortunately Governor Scott turned that around and I’m afraid it’s operating something as a Jim Crow law of the past.”
Under Governor Charlie Crist during his four years in office, more than 150,000 felons had their rights restored. But after Rick Scott took office, the clemency board changed the rules. In Governor Scott’s first four years in office less than 1600 people had their rights restored.
“We work through the process. Here’s the right thing to do, these are felonies and we want to make sure people have turned their life around. That’s the whole point of this process,” said Governor Scott when asked about the issue Monday.
“We are one of the three worst states in the nation when it comes to individuals who are disenfranchised,” Hamilton-Henry said. “Nearly one-fourth of the individuals disenfranchised nationally are Floridians. They should be able to vote once they’ve served the conditions of their sentence and are back in our community. They should be able to have the right to vote.”