It has been eight years since Neil Volz finished serving probation on a felony charge stemming from a congressional corruption scandal. During that time Volz has continued to atone for his crime. He went to work for his Fort Myers church helping homeless individuals dealing with drug and alcohol issues. He currently chairs the Lee County Homeless Coalition. But even as Volz married and became a dedicated member of his community who is devoted to helping the less fortunate, one measure of redemption eluded him: he still cannot vote. If Volz lived in Washington, D.C., where the crime occurred, he’d be able to vote. But he moved to Florida in 2008, and the state has one of the most restrictive laws in the nation regarding the voting rights of convicted felons.
Florida’s law — which was embedded in the state constitution shortly after the Civil War — has long been criticized by those who view it as unjust and racially biased. Now Volz and others are mounting an aggressive campaign to overturn the measure, which barred nearly 1.5 million felons who have completed their sentences from voting last year, according to estimates from The Sentencing Project.
Fueled by a $5 million contribution from the American Civil Liberties Union, a coalition of various activist groups is working to gather enough signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would automatically restore voting rights for most felons — murderers and sex offenders excluded — after they complete the terms of their sentence.
Full Article: Effort to restore felons’ voting rights gains momentum.