Federal judge says the way Florida restores voting rights (or not) to felons is unconstitutional

A federal judge in Tallahassee on Thursday ruled that the way Florida restores voting rights to convicted felons — essentially at the whim of a state-run board, including the governor — is unconstitutional. The state's Executive Clemency Board comprises the governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and chief financial officer.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker also ruled that a lack of time limits for ruling on the restoration of rights is unconstitutional.

Walker's order notes that 154,000 citizens had their voting rights restored during the last four years of former Gov. Charlie Crist's administration. He said that number plummeted to fewer than 3,000 people since Scott took office in 2011.

Walker ordered state and plaintiffs' lawyers to submit briefs by Feb. 12 on how to fix Florida's voter rights restoration process. Just last week, it was announced that voters in November would decide on Amendment 4 of the state constitution — which itself would restore felons' right to vote.

Read more in the Tallahassee Democrat

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