No state comes close to disenfranchising its citizens at the rate Florida does. By doing so, the state extends the iniquities of Jim Crow into the modern era to the detriment of minority and, for the most part, Democratic voters. Now, after years of serving as an anti-democratic model, Florida appears about to see its voters drag it into the 21st century. They should. Of 6.1 million former felons who remain barred from voting across the United States, more than a quarter of them — nearly 1.7 million — are Floridians. It is one of just three states that permanently bars all felons from voting unless their rights are individually restored following an arduous, years-long process. The result: More than 10 percent of voting-age adults, and more than 20 percent of African Americans, have no access to the ballot box in Florida. You read that correctly: 1 in 5 black adults in Florida cannot vote.
That’s a disgrace, and it’s a direct legacy of Florida’s post-Confederate history, which included an 1868 state constitution that stripped felons of voting rights and mandated minimum education requirements for first-time voters, a measure that affected newly freed slaves disproportionately.
Those disenfranchised in the state today are Americans who have completed their sentences, including probation and parole, yet remain stigmatized despite having paid their debt to society.