Calling it “the civil rights cause of the 21st Century,” U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, has sponsored a bill that would restore voting rights to more than a million Floridians. The bill, dubbed the No One Can Take Away Your Right to Vote Act, would guarantee that ex-convicts have the right to vote after they leave prison, though it excludes anyone convicted of murder, manslaughter or a sex crime. Florida, which is one of only three states in which all felons lose the right to vote forever unless it’s restored by the state, has more than 1.5 million citizens unable to vote. That’s about ten percent of the state’s voting age population.
“This punishment is a holdover from less civilized times,” Grayson said, pointing out the law was created in the aftermath of the Civil War as a way to disenfranchise black people.
Currently, some 25 percent of African-American Floridians are unable to vote, despite accounting for about 17 percent of the state’s population.
Grayson estimated that under his proposed law, about 90 percent of Floridians unable to vote would have their rights restored.