The interpretation of “all terms of their sentence” became a flashpoint during this spring’s legislative session as lawmakers struggled to reach consensus on a measure to carry out the amendment.
The House’s party-line, 71-45 vote drew a rebuke from backers of the amendment, who called the bill “a failure to live up to the bipartisan commitment” demonstrated by the 61 percent of voters who approved Amendment 4.
Paul Renner, Flagler’s GOP representative and future Speaker of the House, is being dishonest and disingenuous in his defense of a bill that would make felons’ right to vote dependent on paying back all financial obligations.
House proposals would broaden the definition of sex offenses that would keep a felon from regaining the right to vote and would add a slew of financial obligations before a felon could get the right back.
A new constitutional amendment grants “automatic” restoration of voting rights to felons who’ve completed their sentence, but it excludes people “convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs maintain that Florida’s discretionary process violates the First Amendment, despite a dearth of cases anywhere in the country supporting that argument.
The long-planned march followed a late-night ruling from a federal appeals court that gave Gov. Scott a victory in a bitterly fought challenge to the state’s voter-restoration system.
Automatically restoring the right to vote for convicted felons in Florida could add between 600,000 and 1.6 million voters to the state’s voting rolls.
In a stinging blow to Gov. Rick Scott, a federal judge ruled that the governor’s near-exclusive authority to restore, and more often deny, voting rights to ex-felon is unconstitutional.
Voting rights of felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation and paid restitution would be automatically restored. Murderers and sex offenders would be excluded.