Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet formally asked a federal appeals court Monday to delay a judge’s order to revamp the state’s system of restoring voting rights to convicted felons. The four statewide officials say a delay pending an appeal is necessary to avoid “chaos and uncertainty” in two upcoming elections in Florida. The request for a stay was filed by Attorney General Pam Bondi in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta 10 days before the effective date of U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s order that directs the state to scrap an unconstitutional vote restoration process and replace it by April 26.
Mississippi: Lawsuit: Mississippi Constitution still disenfranchising thousands | Jackson Clarion Ledger
Mississippi’s Constitution, born in 1890 from the cauldron of white supremacy, continues to bar thousands of Mississippians from voting, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges. “The scheme, created in the wake of Reconstruction, was harsh, punitive and unforgiving,” the lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges. “Born out of racial animus and still disproportionately impacting black Mississippians, the scheme impermissibly denies the right to vote to tens of thousands of citizens across the state.” Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, put the number of disenfranchised Mississippians at more than 180,000 — 8 percent of the adult population. Gov. Phil Bryant opposes any change to the law.
Florida: Voting-rights effort finds a new venue in constitution commission | The Florida Times Union
The committee traveling the state on a mission to improve Florida’s constitution is hearing one message over and over. “Every place we’ve gone around the state, every single time we’ve had public comment, a full third have mentioned restoration of rights,” said Chris Smith, one of 37 members of the state Constitutional Revision Commission. Voting rights are revoked in Florida when a person is a convicted of a felony. It’s one of just three states with such a rule, the others being Iowa and Virginia. Florida has disenfranchised 1.5 million people because of felony convictions, according to the nonprofit Sentencing Project, which says that figure includes 21 percent — more than one in five — of the state’s African-Americans. Florida’s disenfranchisement rate is the highest among the 50 states, according to the organization, which said Florida is connected to more than a quarter of the people nationwide who have lost their right to vote.