voting rights

Erik Hersman / Flickr

After a petition was signed by nearly 850,000 Floridians, the decision of whether or not voting rights will be restored to former felons in the state is now in the hands of the people.

Republicans running to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi would continue with the state’s legal approach to defending a controversial process for restoring felons’ voting rights.

But Democrats seeking the state Cabinet post oppose Bondi’s handling of the legal battle and support a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters in November, would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences.

The fight to restore voting rights for those with a felony in their past has become a rapidly intensifying factor in shaping upcoming state elections. After an apparent political victory for Gov. Rick Scott’s cabinet, Democratic challengers are hitting back.

Siding with Gov. Rick Scott and the other members of the Board of Executive Clemency, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday blocked a federal judge’s order that would have required state officials to overhaul Florida’s process of restoring felons’ voting rights by Thursday.

Awaiting a decision from an appellate court, Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled a Wednesday night meeting of the state’s Board of Executive Clemency to address a federal judge’s order that the state revamp its process of restoring felons’ voting rights by Thursday.

Scott late Tuesday directed the board --- comprised of the governor and the three Florida Cabinet members, including Attorney General Pam Bondi --- to meet at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday if the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals does not grant the state’s request to block U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s order.