Voting Rights Activists Push For Civil Rights Restoration

Aug 1, 2016

Rev. Gregory James speaking at the election supervisor's office.
Credit Nick Evans

With the primary election fast approaching voting rights activists are raising awareness about men and women who won’t be able to participate.  They’re pushing to restore voting rights for felons who have served their time.

August 1 marks the registration deadline to cast a ballot in the primary, but for many ex-felons it only reiterates their disenfranchisement.  In Florida, convicts have to petition the governor and cabinet before becoming eligible to vote.  And Leon County Sherriff candidate Walt McNeil believes that’s not just wrong—it’s wrongheaded.

“And so from two perspectives,” McNeil says, “One, just from a humanitarian perspective, it seems to me and it’s borne out with statistics and with data that our society is better served when we restore the rights of those persons leaving our prison systems coming back to our community,”

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is aiming to have a ballot initiative ready for the 2018 election.  The measure wouldn’t apply for murder or sexual offenses, but would restore voting rights for all other felons once they completed their sentence.