This Case Is Proof Florida’s Disenfranchisement Laws Need To Change

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Under Florida’s disenfranchisement laws, a convicted felon, in most cases, does not have right to vote, even after their sentence has been completed.

 

Florida has one of the most punishing disenfranchisement laws in the United Sates — it is nearly impossible for ex-felons to get on the voting ballot.

A recent case involving a now-fired cop showed why these laws need to be overhauled.

Deputy Zachary Wester, a former Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy, was fired after he was accused of planting drugs on unsuspecting passengers on traffic stops.

The accusation warranted an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and as a result more than two dozen cases were dropped after evidence showed Wester possibly planting methamphetamine, causing authorities to “lose confidence” in his arrests.

In total, 263 cases are under review, involving arrests from Wester in the past two years. A Florida circuit judge recently ejected at least eight people’s sentences.

Had the Wester case not come into light, it is possible dozens of people may have lost their right to vote thanks to their felony convictions.

Under Florida’s disenfranchisement laws, a convicted felon, in most cases, does not have right to vote, even after their sentence has been completed.Under Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) restoring ex-felons’ right to vote has proven even more difficult.

Now, a voter initiative called the Voting Restoration Amendment, looks to bend the rules in favor of the estimated 1.6 million Floridians  who await restoration of voting rights. Voters who have not been disenfranchised would ponder upon Amendment 4, which would look to give back voting rights to felons who have earned it, by means of completing their sentences, parole and probation.

The ballot amendment would not exempt those convicted of sexual offenses and murder.

Early polls showed the amendment might just pass after securing the required over 60 percent bipartisan support.

Those stripped off their voting rights in the Sunshine State make up for almost one-quarter of the national total. If the amendment is passed, it would not only provide a second chance for those who have repented for their sins, to have a representation in Florida’s democratic demographic but it will also hold dirty cops accountable for possibly disenfranchising innocent civilians in the future.

Thumbnail/ Banner Credits:REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

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