Two proposals that would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences were approved Thursday by a Florida Constitution Revision Commission panel. In a 6-2 vote, the commission’s Ethics and Elections Committee approved a measure (Proposal 7), sponsored by former Sen. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale, that would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their prison time and completed any probation or parole requirements. Felons convicted of murder or sexual offenses would be excluded. In another 6-2 vote, the panel endorsed a measure (Proposal 21), sponsored by Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, that would also automatically restore felons’ voting rights after sentences are completed.
But Rouson’s proposal would exclude a larger group of felons from automatic restoration. It lists more than a dozen types of felonies that would prevent automatic restoration, including such things as carjacking and burglary.
Smith’s proposal is identical to a constitutional initiative launched by Floridians for a Fair Democracy, a group that is trying to place the proposal on the November ballot by submitting petition signatures.
The group, which has already won approval from the state Supreme Court for the wording of its proposal, is close to reaching the ballot. It had submitted 750,723 valid petition signatures to the state as of late Thursday afternoon, just under the 766,200 ballot threshold.