Al Jacquet Files Bill to Restore Felon Voting Rights
Florida House Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Lantana, has filed a bill to reinstate voting rights to felons three years after they've served their sentences.
HJR 565 would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to automatically reinstate the voting rights of individuals who have "paid their debt to society" three years after completing their sentence.
Florida has a high number of disenfranchised voters based on past felony convictions. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, over 1.6 million Floridians cannot vote due to past felony convictions.
One in five African Americans, who are incarcerated at a much higher rate, cannot vote in Florida.
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist revised the rules for clemency when he was governor in 2007, allowing some felons to have their voting rights automatically restored after completing their sentences.
Gov. Rick Scott eliminated those reforms in 2011.
Jacquet said the legislation was important for Floridians who want to start a clean slate.
“In order to reintegrate back into the community, an individual who has served their debt to society needs to know that they are on equal footing with their fellow Floridians,” he said. “There is no right more powerful for an American citizen than the right to make your voice heard in the voting booth. It’s time Florida stopped unfairly barring those who have made a mistake in their past from being a part of their democracy in the future.”