1,600 EX-FELONS NOT FORCED TO REREGISTER TO VOTE -Andrew Stelzer

07/08/04

A small victory has been won in the fight to have voting rights restored to ex-felons in Florida. As WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer reports, over 1600 ex felons almost had their names taken off the voting rolls, but pressure by citizens rights groups forced the secretary of state to back off on her plans.

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After a lawsuit filed by CNN last week forced the state to publish its list of 47 thousand people who are registered to vote but should be removed from the rolls, the Miami Herald found 1600 names on that list who were people who had gone through the clemency process, and had their rights restored years ago, but the state said those 1600 people registered to vote before their rights were legally restored, so in fact they should be taken off the rolls and forced to reregister—many of these people have been voting for 10 or 20 years, and would not know they had now been ruled ineligible until they showed up on election day. Several advocacy groups sent a letter Tuesday to the Secretary off State, demanding these people not be forced to reregister, and Wednesday, Secretary of State Glenda Hood announced that these 1,600 people would not be taken off the rolls.
Randall Marshall is the legal director of the ACLU of Florida

ACT ‘This originally started

The Secretary of State, appointed by Governor Jeb Bush, has been claiming that making sure people weren’t wrongly on the list of 45 thousand other ex-felons is out of her hands, and local supervisors of elections are complaining that they do not have the proper resources to find out who should or shouldn’t be on the list. Randy Berg is a lawyer with the Florida Justice institute, which filed the lawsuit against the state demanding that the state not force 1600 people to re-register.

ACT ‘If we as a society want people not to go back to prison and don’t want prison to be a revolving door, we have to restore peoples civil rights, and the governor and the cabinet could do it tomorrow, it doesn’t require a n act of the legislature, it doesn’t require a constitutional amendment they could do it tomorrow.� END ACT

The Florida justice institute has also made a demand to the secretary of state to pull the entire list of 48,000 people, because there are so many problems with it, especially the disproportionate number of people on the list who are black. The Secretary of State office has not yet responded. To change the law which prevent felons from voting all together, the legislature would have to amend the constitution, governor Bush has the power to grant devil rights to ex-felons, and he could institute a policy where he does so for every felon upon their release from prison. But Governor Bush has indicated he is not planning to restore ex-felons civil rights. Randall Marshall from the ACLU says this weeks events may be a sign that the public and media pressure may be causing government officials to move more quickly to try and have a fair and just election this November.

ACT “The quickness with which …�

To see if your name is on the list of Floridians ineligible to vote, log on to www.pfaw.org

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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