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From Red State to Jumpsuit Orange: Florida Votes to Restore Voting Rights to 1.5 Million Ex-Felons

From Red State to Jumpsuit Orange: Florida Votes to Restore Voting Rights to 1.5 Million Ex-Felons

“with the exception of those convicted of murder and sexual offenses”

Republicans had a good night in Florida. Ron DeSantis won the governor race and former governor Rick Scott won the Senate race.

Both races were won by pretty thin margins, however, and a ballot measure was approved which could make a difference for future races at all levels, including presidential elections.

USA Today reports:

Florida passes amendment to restore voting rights for 1.5 million felons

Florida voters on Tuesday approved Amendment 4, which says that most felons will automatically have their voting rights restored when they complete their sentences or go on probation.

The amendment restores voting rights to former felons who served their sentence, including parole and probation, with the exception of those convicted of murder and sexual offenses. Currently, former felons must wait at least 5 years after completing their sentences to ask the Florida Clemency Board, made up by the governor and the Cabinet, to restore their rights.

A U.S. district judge found Florida’s current system arbitrary and unconstitutional in March, and the case is under appeal. If passed, Amendment 4 would impact 1.5 million Floridians. Florida is one of four states that disenfranchises former felons permanently.

My colleague Mary Chastain reported on this back in April:

Appeals Court Delays Changes to Florida’s System to Restore Felon Voting Rights

Last month, the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued a stay on Florida’s system to restore voting rights for felons. The court then ordered Republican Governor Rick Scott and three Cabinet members to adopt a new system by April 26 to allow convicted felons to vote.

The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit blocked the ruling and decided the state does not have to immediately adopt a new system to restore the voting rights of convicted felons.

From HuffPost:

The Florida clemency board had planned an emergency meeting Wednesday evening to discuss changes to its system for restoring voting rights, but canceled it after the 11th Circuit’s ruling.

Former felons in Florida can request to have their voting rights restored, but there is no guarantee it will happen (some other states restore voting rights automatically). In fact, Florida is just one of four states that permanently disenfranchises people who commit a felony by default. After a waiting period, people who have entirely completed their sentences can apply to get their voting rights restored by the state’s executive clemency board ― which consists of the governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and the state’s chief investment officer.

Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review lives in Florida and points out some better news:

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I don’t think there is such thing as an ex-felon, unless a conviction is overturned. Serving out one’s sentence doesn’t mean one’s crime never happened nor its victims never wronged.

I think this is right. If you have done your time then that should be the end of it and you become, once again, a every day normal citizen enjoying all the rights of an every day normal civilian.

    Mac45 in reply to mailman. | November 7, 2018 at 10:07 am

    This would be a noble concept, except that it discriminates against murderers and sex offenders.

    See, Florida has a clemency law which allows a convicted felon to apply for restoration of his voting rights five years after completion of his sentence. Some requests are granted and some are not. How fairly this was being done was the subject of recent court hearings. This is being done solely to change the political status quo in the state, for the benefit of liberals.

    dystopia in reply to mailman. | November 7, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Democrats have been using any mean necessary to introduce new — probably Democrat voters into the electorate. There is nothing noble here. The measure would never have made it to the ballot if there Democrats were not convinced it would bring them new voters.

    The saccharine coated ballot measure creates 1.2 million Democrat voters. It could change the electoral balance of the Florida.

      bobtuba in reply to dystopia. | November 7, 2018 at 11:13 am

      This. It sounds all fluffy and nice to say that once a criminal has paid his debt to society, that he should have his voting rights restored. I note that no one was excited about restoring their 2A rights. Funny old thing. The truth on the ground is that we have just created a million new Dem voters. Just like that. That red you see on the FL political maps? Take a picture, you might not ever see it again.

    forksdad in reply to mailman. | November 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Finishing your ten of deprivation of liberty is just the start. You have proven yourself unable to live by the norms of society and incapable of the self discipline necessary to exercise the franchise. Earn it back seven or ten years seems fair to me.

    That’s about half the time it takes to earn the franchise in the first place. No arrests, no violations, no convictions in any state and you get it back if you petition. If you don’t care enough to petition then you’re not competent to vote.

Depending upon how long these people remain out of jail and how many actually vote, this will have serious effects on the political make-up of the state and, probably the country. It is expected to be a Christmas present for Dem and liberal statewide candidates. Due to the demographics of the state, this will not impact local races overly much, as liberal felons will likely live in liberal areas and vice versa.

As Florida has a system for restoring felon’s voting rights, this push for automatic renewal was done solely to benefit liberal, mostly Democrat, candidates for statewide and US office.

Florida just went Blue!

    theduchessofkitty in reply to MarkS. | November 7, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Did you just read what Charles Cook wrote? Practically all FL statewide offices went to the GOP.

      Did I miss something? I was under the impression that Fl, yesterday, voted to allow ex-felons to vote, the vast majority of who I assumed would prefer the Dem agenda, hence my opine that Fl will from here on be a state with 1.4 million,+/- new Democratic voters

        hrhdhd in reply to MarkS. | November 7, 2018 at 11:23 am

        I am hoping they will be too busy committing crimes to vote.

        Pardon my levity: I am just giddy that Gillum lost.

Bitterlyclinging | November 7, 2018 at 10:16 am

The party of the perv, the felon, the welfare freeloader, the illegal alien invader and the murdering Muslim jihadi strikes again.

Well, Minnesota has elected a new member to the House of Representatives, Illhan Omar, whom it is rumored shared her home with two roommates while attending university: her two husbands and her brother.

Cutpurse Clay; Mikey? Uhmm..

Mugger Mike: What up?

Clay: I’ve been thinking about these shackles they make us wear. And these orange jumpsuits.

Mike: So? What of it?

Clay; Mike… are we the baddies?

Mike; Hah! Dont be silly. We’re Democrats, it’s the Republicans who are stupid and evil.

Clay: Maybe so. But if Republicans are the stupid and evil ones, how come we got caught and sent to this prison?

Mike: omg… we ARE the baddies…

I believe that people who have paid their debt should be encouraged to take responsibility for themselves and their community, and that their franchise is an integral part of that responsibility. I know that isn’t a popular theme with a lot of you. If you live here in Florida, you had every right to vote against it.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Immolate. | November 7, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Considering a process was already in place that could consider this on a case by case basis, the system wasn’t broken in that regard.

    The only people “harmed” were those that didn’t want to bother petitioning for restoration of voting rights. If you want to vote but don’t want to take the steps to vote again, then why do you deserve to vote? This is tangentially related to ID requirements, which also require a modicum of effort on the part of the citizen to vote responsibly and insure fidelity in the election process.

    It’s not really hard to vote, but Democrats keep wanting to make it easier to keep buying votes from those with a hand out and nothing else to offer (i.e. bus me, give me some free stuff, and I’ll show up and put in minimum effort for your cause). I used to live in Florida and wish I had been there to vote against it.

    bobtuba in reply to Immolate. | November 7, 2018 at 11:16 am

    And I did vote against it, because it is suicidal. We point at the Euros importing an invading army and mock them for committing cultural suicide, but this is about the same thing. Florida just committed political suicide because “it seemed to be fair.”

Don’t be too quick. I agree with you.

The sentence was 10 years, not 10 years and lose some key rights for life. And those 10 years were served, minus 4 because he’s Hillary’s 2nd cousin.

But think about the single mother who got off the path with crack. Early out for good behavior, did her rehab, lives in some blue city state shithole with her daughter and a police response time of tomorrow.

Are we taking away her right to defend herself and her family with a fully manual* semiautomatic rifle.

(Sorry, lil poke at the lawyer-expert who is smarter than the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Pentagon, McDonnell Douglas and Northrop Grumman.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Fen. | November 7, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Considering women are a large minority of convicted felons and there is a process in place for her to vote again, I don’t see the problem.

Serve the proscribed time for the crime, and then return to civilian life. That means the perks and responsibilities, too, like voting. Continue to remove a citizen’s rights, and it’s continued punishment. Is there a risk that a person who irresponsibly committed a crime will vote irresponsibly once his time has been served? Probably no more so than a never-criminal.

    healthguyfsu in reply to MrSatyre. | November 7, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    ” Is there a risk that a person who irresponsibly committed a crime will vote irresponsibly once his time has been served? Probably no more so than a never-criminal.”

    This sentence is “satyre” right?

With the inclusion of abortionists, who are politically congruent (profitable), and the exclusion of rape-rapists. Rapists, too? It’s the age of #MeToo, #HerToo, #ZheToo.

Starting from first principles, one of several reasons for our penal system is “reformation”.

My own state of Texas is a bad example of how to incentivize ex-felons. It is simply impossible for any ex-convict to have their record expunged, barring a pardon from the governor. Can’t be done.

So, what awaits an ex-convict on release? Especially a young offender? They face of life of unemployment, generally, in any number of possible job markets. Housing is even hard to obtain. No amount of right living will avail in Texas, again barring a governor’s pardon…which is seldom granted.

Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying. “Reformation” shouldn’t be automatic or even easy. But it damn well should be POSSIBLE. And the more disabilities we place in the way of people who are really trying to fully reform (or rehabilitate), the more stupid our system simply is. We often drive ex-cons into recidivism just to live.

I know this from personal experience with Texas ex-cons who want to do the right thing, and live a life along those lines.

Please. This is the old “society is responsible for criminality” BS that the libs have been spouting for decades.

1) In the first place, a person usually becomes a felon because he, or she, made the conscious decision to violate the law. Most people make themselves criminals, with no help from society.

2) Once you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, then you have to build a reputation for veracity, honesty and reliability. This is always a slow, difficult process. A process that many, if not most, convicted felons are not willing to undertake.

3) Generally, people who are released from prison have not changed significantly. They still have the same failing that landed them in prison to begin with; lack of self control, greed, a lack of compassion for others, etc. That is why the recidivism rate is so high. These people would rather sell drugs or steal then work at a minimum wage job. They tend to mingle with the same people, in the same places, as they did when they were actively breaking the law.

It also totally ignores the way the criminal justice system works. Most non-violent felonies are pled as misdemeanors, unless the defendant has a long criminal history. So, the new three strike rule is three strikes before you are convicted of a felony and have to go to prison.

As Baretta used to say; don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

Maybe fellons should never loss voting rights. If politicians had to pander to prisoners imagine how comfortable prisons would be.

Town hall forums in prison. How great would that be. Will be the only way to get Hillary in prison.

When are they going to restore their 2A rights, after all they’ve become model citizens (snark off).

I voted for this, and yes, I knew, of course, that it was backed by a long list of progressive groups. Here’s the thing, though, if you’ve paid your debt to society, it’s paid. They should not be penalized via disenfranchisement for life. States have the right to decide, of course, via the 14th, so I guess the “fix” might be to start sentencing applicable felons to disenfranchisement for life or pending some conditions and application for restoration of their right to vote. Not being a Constitutional (or any other kind of) lawyer, I have no idea how an actual sentence revoking the right to vote might work if used to flout the new Florida amendment. If this should be part of the sentence, then we can make it so . . . Convict A is sentenced to life with no parole for 25 years and no voting rights following his lawful release. . . . oh, wait, the first time you sentence Convict A to a loss of his voting rights for life, it will head to the Supremes who will likely vote 9-0 that it’s unconstitutional to sentence someone to a lifetime of disenfranchisement.

I was given pause by the vast number of convicted felons in Florida who are black, Hispanic, and otherwise “fit” in the Democrat demographic (thus the “giving” of 1 million plus votes to the Dems), but if we can’t make a case for black people and Hispanics by now, we don’t deserve their vote. Candace Owens and other black conservatives are making inroads there, and it’s only a matter of time before blacks and Hispanics, who are basically and generally-speaking very conservative, get the message. We just haven’t had an effective messenger. Even Trump is missing a golden opportunity with the migrant caravan; black people are pissed off that Democrats care more about illegals than they do about them. Democrats DO care more for illegals because they have the black vote tied up. So, to the Dems, black people can wallow in poverty awash with gang violence and little hope for any future because they will vote Dem anyway. It’s been the same for over 50 years.

Anyway, we can make that case, and if we can’t, well then . . . . it’s not relevant to the specific question at hand. Politics aside, should convicted criminals who’ve served their time be allowed to vote again? My answer was and is “yes.” I believe it’s the right thing to do.

    I have to take exception to the phrase “paid their debt to society”. Serving a period of incarceration is NOT paying a debt to society. People are removed from society, forcibly, because they have proven themselves to be a danger to that society. It is like grounding a teenager for coming home late. Once the period of grounding is completed, the parent usually monitors the child’s behavior to make sure that it is up to accepted standards. Also, additional restrictions are imposed, such as increased restrictions on travel and association. As the child proves to be more trustworthy, through his or her actions, restrictions are reduced. The same is true with those who knowingly commit crimes. That is why society imposes life long restrictions of certain types of criminals, such as sexual offenders. Beat a person to death and you don’t have to report your residential location to authorities, after release from incarceration and parole. Have a consensual sexual affair with a minor and you have to let let authorities know where you live and are barred from being near certain locations for the rest of your life.

    Life is, apparently, inherently unfair.

      Great points, as always, Mac. I stand by what I said, even though I do appreciate your viewpoint, particularly as it is anchored in a lifetime of law enforcement. You necessarily see things differently than I, with zero interaction with “criminal elements,” do, and i respect that so much. I just think that when we put our kids on restriction, we tend to let them serve that time and then go back to their lives, barring some reason for stepping in (broken curfews, unsavory associations, etc.).

      Raising kids means an investment not just of love but of trust, and when a kid screws up, you take away their phone/computer/whatever, and then when the restrictive time has ended, you have to let them go on (under the rules of your house). These are parenting issues, but there’s nothing to be gained by treating your child like a criminal on parole after they broke curfew and spent a weekend at home with no social access. If you’re too hard on a child, they will rebel. Bigly.

      I don’t quite see criminals as children, but if I did, then I would think that once their restriction is lifted, it’s lifted. You can’t keep penalizing people for past infractions without building resentment, rage, and an internal sense of injustice.

      But that’s just me. Like I said, I don’t have any experience with criminal people, but I do know that you can’t hold things over people forever without them getting (understandably) super resentful and then (understandably) lashing out. #JustMyTwoCents

        Ragspierre in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | November 10, 2018 at 3:03 pm

        Sorry, I don’t think he makes any “great points”, as pretty much always.

        What he does do…quite inadvertently…is agree with my points.

        “Once the period of grounding is completed, the parent usually monitors the child’s behavior to make sure that it is up to accepted standards. Also, additional restrictions are imposed, such as increased restrictions on travel and association. As the child proves to be more trustworthy, through his or her actions, restrictions are reduced.”

        But adults are not children, and our penal system is not parental.

        When an ex-con shows by their conduct they have reformed, they should be done in many cases. A seventeen-year-old who commits a robbery with an unloaded gun is guilty of the crime of armed robbery with a deadly weapon. Tried as an adult, they should, by a showing of rehabilitation, NOT be disabled for life after, say 26.

        “Life is, apparently, inherently unfair.”

        And our criminal system should not be inherently stupid, nor defended when it is stupid.

I heard on the news that Broward and Palm Beach counties have continued counting “votes” for governor the last two days and the lead is down to ~15k votes. I’m sure they can manufacture enough votes in the last two days to steal the governor’s race.