> This is an important measure since the loss of civil rights for convicted
> felons punitively and disproportionately impacts African-American men.
> Ex-cons may get voting restored
> Gwyneth K. Shaw
> Tallahassee Bureau
> Published in The Orlando Sentinel on March 17, 2000
> TALLAHASSEE -- A proposed constitutional amendment that would
> allow convicted felons who have served their time to vote passed easily
> Thursday through a Senate committee.
> Florida's constitution now bans ex-convicts from voting, unless they
> petition the state clemency board to restore their civil rights. Only a
> small percentage do so.
> The proposal, by Democratic Sens. Jim Hargrett, Mandy Dawson and
> Betty Holzendorf, would automatically restore voting rights one year
> after a prison term or probation is completed, unless a majority of the
> state's clemency board disagrees. In order to hold public office, a person
> with a felony conviction still would have to have civil rights restored.
> The Senate Ethics and Elections committee unanimously approved the
> idea. Similar legislation is being sponsored in the House by Democratic
> Reps. Alzo Reddick and Cynthia Chestnut, but has yet to be heard in
> committee. If the measure is passed by the Legislature, voters still would
> have to approve the amendment to the constitution.
> Hargrett, D-Tampa, said the proposal would put Florida on par with
> many other states, including California, New York and Texas, that
> automatically restore voting rights. While the 1999 session, with its
> passel of anti-crime measures, might have been a better environment in
> which to make the change, he said lawmakers need to move forward
> "This is not about public safety; this is not about being tough on crime,"
> Hargrett said. "I believe it's about human rights."
> Florida leads the nation in ex-felons who can't vote, with more than