Florida’s process of restoring voting rights disenfranchise African-American voters

Despite the 14th and 15th amendments guaranteeing the civil rights of black Americans, their right to vote and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, African-American still face barriers at some states that prevent them from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed.

As an example, more than 20 percent of eligible African-American adults in Florida are unable to vote because of a law that dates to the Reconstruction era. Even though their sentences are completed, Florida Republican governor is using this law to prevent felons from voting, unless officials approve a request to have those rights restored. Most states restore voting rights to felons after they've completed their sentences. Some states wait for probation and parole to be complete.

Earlier this year, a federal judge, Judge Mark Walker said that Florida’s process, with its “substantial risk of arbitrary and discriminatory vote-restoration is worse than a coin flip.” Judge Walker also added that Florida's process for clemency and restoring voting rights was unconstitutional. The state appealed and arguments in the case are scheduled in July.

During former Gov. Charlie Crist's four years in office, he restored the voting rights of more than 150,000 Floridians. Meanwhile, in his seven years in office, current Republican Gov. Rick Scott has restored the voting rights of only 3,000 people. 

According to Jon Sherman of Fair Elections Legal Network,

"There's no rule, no standard, no criteria governing their decision-making. Sometimes, the governor simply says, 'I don't feel comfortable at this point."

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