voting rights

Vaguely Artistic / Flickr/Creative Commons

Some will vote by mail. Some will vote early. Some will go old-school and vote on the actual election day. Some won’t vote at all.

But slightly more than 13 million Floridians are registered to vote in advance of the Aug. 28 primary elections, according to new figures posted online by the state Division of Elections. Democrats outnumber Republicans, but just barely, as both parties gear up for a fierce battle in November for a U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s office.

GOP Has Early Lead In Mail-In Ballots For August 28 Primaries

Aug 6, 2018
Associated Press

Nearly 260,000 people have already voted in the Aug. 28 primary elections, with Republicans having an early edge over Democrats in returning vote-by-mail ballots, according to figures updated Monday morning by the Florida Division of Elections.

With nearly 2.5 million ballots sent out, the state reported that Republicans had returned 120,939 ballots, compared to 98,493 by Democrats. Another 38,728 ballots have been completed by people without party affiliations and 1,129 by people registered with third parties.

Floridians have until the end of the month to register to vote in Florida’s Primary Election or update their party affiliation.

After numerous complaints last week, Florida’s election agency says the glitches on its online voter registration website are fixed. But, if anyone sees any other issues going forward, they’re urged to report them immediately.

At Florida's Capitol in Tallahassee, four times a year, dozens of anxious people gather to hear a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. Felons whose sentences and probation are complete stand before the governor and other Cabinet members to ask for clemency and the restoration of their right to vote.

After waiting for years, Joanne Calvarese made her case to the clemency board in June.

"I feel that I have paid my consequences," Calvarese said. "I know I don't deserve your mercy, but I beg you for it."

Republicans running to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi would continue with the state’s legal approach to defending a controversial process for restoring felons’ voting rights.

But Democrats seeking the state Cabinet post oppose Bondi’s handling of the legal battle and support a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters in November, would automatically restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences.

Florida does not have to change its system for restoring the voting rights of felons -- for now.

As an appellate court reviews an appeal by Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet in the battle for a new rights restoration scheme for felons, protesters rallied at the Capitol Thursday. Civil rights leaders urged support for a citizens’ initiative amendment on the ballot in November.

Steve Bousquet / Miami Herald

Florida’s antiquated system of restoring voting rights to felons is battered but not broken — which means that most felons probably won’t be able to cast ballots in this fall’s elections.

A federal appeals court stepped in at the last minute Wednesday and approved Gov. Rick Scott’s request to block a lower court’s order to replace the system, a day before Scott and the three elected Cabinet members faced a deadline to enact new rules for restoring felons’ rights.

Joe Reedy / AP via Miami Herald

Siding with Gov. Rick Scott and the other members of the Board of Executive Clemency, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday blocked a federal judge’s order that would have required state officials to overhaul Florida’s process of restoring felons’ voting rights by Thursday.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Awaiting a decision from an appellate court, Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled a Wednesday night meeting of the state’s Board of Executive Clemency to address a federal judge’s order that the state revamp its process of restoring felons’ voting rights by Thursday.

Scott late Tuesday directed the board --- comprised of the governor and the three Florida Cabinet members, including Attorney General Pam Bondi --- to meet at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday if the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals does not grant the state’s request to block U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s order.

Days after Attorney General Pam Bondi filed an appeal of District Judge Mark Walker’s ruling the Clemency Board must overhaul Florida’s voting rights restoration process for felons, Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott are unflinching in defense of their position.

Gov. Scott Appeals Ruling On Voting Rights For Felons

Apr 4, 2018
Miami Herald Archive

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Wednesday continued battling a judge’s ruling that would require the state to overhaul the controversial process for restoring ex-felons’ voting rights, taking the case to a federal appeals court.

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed a notice of appeal at the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Also, it requested a stay of an order by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that gave the state an April 26 deadline for making changes to the rights-restoration process.

On Nov. 8, 2016, Crystal Mason got out of work and drove through the rain to her home in Dallas. She walked through the door and tried to settle in for the evening. But her mother delivered something akin to a scolding.

"You have to go vote!" Mason's mother said, according to her attorney, J. Warren St. John, who spoke to NPR.

CRC Weighs Felon Voting Rights Proposal

Mar 9, 2018

A proposal that could’ve changed the way felons’ rights are restored was withdrawn the Constitution Revision Commission Thursday, leaving a broken system intact for now. But it’s not the final say on the issue.

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