Proposed amendment that would automatically restore ex-felons’ rights moves forward

by | Jan 18, 2018

A proposal to automatically restore the voting rights of non-violent ex-felons continues to make its way through the Constitution Revision Commission. The CRC’s Ethics and Elections Committee approved the proposed amendment on Thursday by a vote of 6-2.

Under current law, a person convicted of a felony must wait at least five years before they can appeal to the governor and Cabinet to have their rights restored.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist was the first governor to allow for the automatic restoration of ex-felons’ rights, with the exception of violent offenders. But Gov. Rick Scott reversed that order after he took office. Since then, the waiting list of Floridians seeking to  have their rights restored has grown to more than 20,000.

The CRC meets every 20 years to review the state’s constitution and put proposed changes before voters to decide. If successful, the current proposal would bring Florida in line with most of the other states in the nation that already allow for automatic restoration of rights.

The proposed amendment was one of two that passed out of the committee Thursday dealing with the restoration of ex-felons’ rights. The other proposal would specifically spell out those convictions ineligible for automatic restoration, while also providing for individual consideration.

Both proposals have one more committee stop. If they pass there, they will go before the full CRC which will decide whether to put on the ballot for voters to decide in November.

There is also a citizen initiative underway in Florida that would also automatically restore ex-felons’ rights. Under the initiative process,  backers of the initiative are required to collect and verify roughly 700,000 signatures by February 1st in order to appear on the November ballot.

If any of the three amendments dealing with the automatic restoration of ex-felons’ rights make it to the ballot later this year, they must be approved by 70 percent of the voters in order to become part of the Florida Constitution.

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