Leonard “Roscoe” Newton has been in and out of Florida’s prisons since before he could vote, starting with a youthful conviction for burglary. He’s been a free man for six years now with an important exception: he still can’t vote. Newton, who is African American, is among nearly 1.5 million former felons who have been stripped of their right to vote in a state with a history of deciding U.S. presidential elections, sometimes by razor-thin margins of just a few hundred votes. Felons have been disenfranchised in Florida since 1868, although they can seek clemency to restore their voting rights. Since 2011, however, when Republican state leaders toughened the restrictions on felon voting rights, just 2,339 ex-felons have had that right restored, the lowest annual numbers in nearly two decades, according to state data reviewed by Reuters. That compares with more than 155,000 in the prior four years under reforms introduced by Governor Rick Scott’s predecessor, moderate Republican governor Charlie Crist, the data shows. Crist, who was governor from 2007 to 2011, made it much easier to restore ex-felons’ voting rights.Full Article: Partisanship Seen in Florida's Harsh Stance on Felons' Voting Rights.
Oct 26 2016