The Future Of 1.4 Million Floridians With Felony Convictions Is On The Ballot In November

Talking Points Memo

ORLANDO, Florida — Desmond Meade doesn’t want to talk about Florida Governor Rick Scott. Nor does he want to talk about partisan politics or racial sentencing disparities. Most of all, he doesn’t want to talk about himself.

That might seem odd for the head of a group devoted to restoring the franchise to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions, whose voting rights are automatically stripped under a Scott administration policy. 

But that’s the Florida Rights Restoration Commission’s goal: complicating the public understanding of who is affected by felon disenfranchisement, and who enforces these policies. When states adopt significant policy changes, local governments “need to take responsibility for notifying residents of their right to vote,” the Sentencing Project’s Porter said. Not all states are willing to take on this responsibility. 

As part of their years-long lawsuit against Alabama for its unclear felon disenfranchisement policy, the Campaign Legal Center asked that the state engage in due diligence to inform the thousands of affected voters. 

So the CLC in July teamed up with the Southern Poverty Law Center to carry out that work, going to bus stops, homes, and community events throughout the state to inform Alabamians about the new law and get them registered to vote. Blair Bowie, a Skadden Foundation Fellow working on the CLC’s campaign, told TPM that “because they have been wrongly told that they cannot vote, the state has a special obligation to correct that misinformation.”

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