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Report shows 1/10 Floridians ineligible to vote due to criminal backgrounds

One -in-ten Florida adults can’t vote due to a felony conviction. That’s the highest rate in the nation according a report released by the Sentencing Project, an advocate for voting rights.

The report found that more than a million felons who served their time in prison were disenfranchised in Florida in 2012. Most states restore voting rights automatically once a felon leaves prison.

But one of Governor Rick Scott’s first actions after taking office last year was to reverse rules created by former Governor Charlie Crist which allowed most former felons to become voters after completing their sentences.

Under new rules crafted by state Attorney General Pam Bondi, those convicted of non-violent crimes must wait five to seven years after their release before they can apply to Scott, Bondi and other members of Florida’s clemency board for a hearing. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll have their rights restored. 

There is a bill pending in Congress that would restore ex-felons voting rights in federal elections.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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