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Joint House resolution would restore felon voting rights after three years

A new joint resolution in the House would allow felons the right to vote in Florida three years after their sentence is up.

The resolution by Rep. Al Jacquet of West Palm Beach would, if passed on the next general election (or a special election specifically for this) ballot, amend the statutes on voting to extend the right to felons.

A previous resolution failed to even make it on the ballot in 2016 due to not getting the required number of signatures in time by Florida Rights Coalition President Desmond Meade, who spearheaded the movement to do so.

The statutes say that no person convicted of a felony or deemed mentally incompetent shall be allowed to vote or hold office until those rights are restored.

The new, added portion says, “However, a person convicted of a felony shall be automatically qualified to vote three years after the person completes his or her sentence.”

Now it remains to be seen whether the voters in the state of Florida will go for it.

Florida is one of only three states that doesn’t allow felons the right to vote, along with Iowa and Kentucky – and Florida has about 1.7 million felons that can’t vote, making for more than a quarter of the nationwide population of them.

A proposed amendment by the Floridians for a Fair Democracy group goes further than the resolution proposed in the House. In it, the group proposes that felons, except for murderers and sex offenders, will have their voting rights restored after they complete prison and probation.

In March, the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments on a proposed amendment that would allow that to happen.

There was no companion bill in the Senate as of Friday afternoon.

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