Voting Rights and Convicted Felons: After a Conviction, Will I Have the Right to Vote?
When a person is jailed for a felony, they lose their right to vote. When they are released, they often attempt to rebuild their life piece by piece. Usually, this rebuilding process is challenging, with many barriers thrown in their way. One of the fundamental rights of a United States citizen is the right to vote, and restoration of this right can go a long way to making a felon feel like a part of society again. If you are released, will new legislation making it easier to regain your constitutional rights? Here’s what you need to know about voting rights and convicted felons.
Convicted Felons and the Right to Vote in Florida
For years, anyone convicted of a felony in the state of Florida was ineligible to vote. All this, however, was turned on its head when the Florida legislature approved legislation to restore the voting rights of those who receive felony convictions. This legislation follows the approval of an amendment calling for the restitution of felons voting rights by Florida voters in the last election.
The controversial bill allows any felon to regain their constitutional right to vote, provided they meet specific obligations. These obligations include the completion of the entire sentence – including probation – as well as the paying of any existing financial debts as ordered by the judge.
Under the new law, all felons are eligible to have their voting rights restored, except for convicted murders and anyone convicted of a felony sexual offense.
Are the New Financial Hurdles for Voting Rights Unjust?
Many Democrats argue that the imposition of the requirement for all financial obligations to be met is unjust and places undue hardship of those felons seeking to have their rights restored. The bill passed by the Florida House defines the completing of “all terms of the sentence” to include not only time served and probation but also court fees, costs, and any fines.
Republicans feel this ensures that felons fully comply with their sentence and does not in any way represent an attempt to disenfranchise potential voters. Democrats, on the other hand, feel this is an attempt to place undue hardships on felons, and at the same time deter many from regaining their rights. Democrats are seeking much more lenient terms of the completion of a sentence – substantially time and probation. They feel these terms are more in line with the will of the five million Floridians who voted to approve Amendment Four, which passed the returning of the voting rights.
Are You a Felon Looking to Restore Your Rights?
If you are seeking the restoration of your voting rights, you need an attorney as dedicated to your civil liberties as you are.
Chad Piotrowski has a long and distinguished record of defending his clients from charges ranging from drug possession and theft to sexual assault and murder. Chad is a former prosecuting attorney in Miami-Dade with the unique insight to help him anticipate every move and craft an expert defense to best suit his client’s individual needs. Chad is passionate about his client’s rights and is ready to fight for you.