Florida voters spoke clearly four weeks ago: They restored the right to vote to most convicted felons who complete their sentences. When it becomes Florida law in five weeks, an estimated 1.2 million felons will be eligible to rejoin the voter rolls. But at a statewide elections conference Tuesday, it was obvious that confusion and uncertainty still hovers over implementation of Amendment 4. The state announced that it has stopped transmitting documents counties use to remove convicted felons from the rolls. One official said the issue requires more research on how to carry out the will of the people. “The state is putting a pause button on our felon identification files,” Division of Elections director Maria Matthews told election supervisors from most of the state’s 67 counties at a mid-winter meeting. “We need this time to research it, to be sure we are providing the appropriate guidance.”
Matthews said the will of the people is clear: A person who completes their sentence should be able to register to vote, “and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Speaking to reporters, Matthews’ boss, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who reports to Gov. Rick Scott, said lawmakers should be consulted.
“We need to get some direction from them as far as implementation and definitions — all the kind of things that the supervisors were asking,” Detzner said. “It would be inappropriate for us to charge off without direction from them.”