Unfortunately, the Sunshine State is does not glow with warm approval about providing leniency for people who have committed felony crimes. If you commit a felony in the state, you will lose your electoral rights for life, unless a clemency board or the governor of the state decides it is okay to give them back. As a result, over 1.5 million Floridians (around 9%) are unable to vote, serve on a jury or hold an elected office.
According to the Sentencing Project, which is a prison-reform organization, the percentage of felons in other states that cannot vote is 2%. Only Kentucky and Iowa invoke the same kind of legal mandate as Florida. Felons cannot vote unless they petition to get them back. In most states, felons usually can get their rights returned when they complete their prison term (including parole) or probation.
Felon Voting Law in Florida
Currently, as of 4/27/2016, about 11,000 felons have applied for reinstatement of rights and are awaiting an answer. Under Florida governor Rick Scott, 1,534 non-violent offenders have had their voting rights restored.
In the interim, some members in the state legislature have been working on establishing an amendment that would return the right to vote to felons, except those felons who were found guilty of a sexual offense or murder. The rights, per the amendment, would be reinstated after the felon completed probation or parole.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned amendment did not make the Florida ballot. You can obtain further information about the proposed amendment by clicking on this link.
How a Felon in Florida Can Restore Their Voting Rights
Felons currently cannot restore their voting rights easily after they have served time. Florida will not allow a felon to vote, hold office or serve on a jury after he has served his sentence. If a felon wants to regain his right to vote, he must file a petition to have the privilege restored with a governmental authority or clemency board. The following link provides further details about the current state amendment, and how it reads in the state’s constitution.
According to Florida’s Office of Executive Clemency, the Clemency Board considers the following factors when making a determination for granting an application for the restoration of civil rights. These factors include –
· The circumstances and nature of the offense,
· Prior or subsequent offenses, including traffic violations
· Drug or mental health issues
· History of employment
· Any issues regarding domestic violence
· Previous letters submitted in opposition or support of granting clemency
You can read more about the process by clicking on this link. The Department of Corrections in the state spells out the clemency process on its website.
Other Resources For Felons in Florida
Jobs For Felons: If you’re a felon looking for a job in Florida, we have all of the resources you need including job listings by city, companies that hire felons, and our own job board. Click Here to learn more.