Florida may soon be on the path to restoring voting rights to felons, according to reports from state election officials this week.
Florida is one of nine extremely restrictive states that require a governor’s action or court action to restore the voting rights to felons. This oppressive ruling has banned 1.5 million Floridians from voting.
In 2007, Gov. Charlie Crist pushed to reform the unjust process by seeking to accelerate the restoration procedure for those nonviolent offenders who had completed their sentences and made restitution.
The move allowed over 155,000 people to regain their rights. However, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General of Florida Pam Bondi made it their goal to revoke those rights, placing Florida back in the category of most oppressive states toward felons.
While 38 states and the District of Columbia restore voting rights to felons either automatically upon release or completion of sentence, Florida refuses to grant its citizens the most valued right offered in this nation.
However, that may soon change. A petition has received nearly 71,000 signatures from registered voters who support amending the law. Now Bondi and the Supreme Court of Florida must review the initiative.
If Florida’s politicians realize it is time to join the majority of our country in having fair laws protecting the rights of citizens the amendment may be on the 2018 ballot.
No one is advocating for the rights of murderers or sex offenders to be restored, but it’s not fair that those who were incarcerated for minor crimes should be prevented from having a say in the government that controls their lives.
Bondi and the Supreme Court of Florida need to recognize that as long as millions of Floridians’ voices are not valued, they will continue to keep our state in a unjust regime.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.