Florida’s disenfranchisement laws are racist. Our state still employs the exact language used 150 years ago to purposefully bar African Americans from voting. This law bans voting for 21 percent of the African-American voting-age population.
Every citizen should sign and circulate petitions of the Voter Restoration Amendment or let their voices be heard via the Constitution Revision Commission, which is touring Florida to hear the public’s input on possible amendments to the state Constitution. This happens just once every 20 years. There are two ways to have your voice heard.
Of the 1.6 million disenfranchised Floridians, the vast majority have completed their prison time — including probation and parole. However, the clemency process in Florida is unjustly restrictive. Applicants are burdened with extensive paperwork, mandatory waiting periods of up to seven years, clemency board hearings, and burdensome fines and penalties.
Applicants need the approval of the governor and two members of his cabinet. The clemency board can deny any applicant without providing any reason.
We cannot claim to be a democracy until we ensure the full participation of every community in our state.
Dwight Bullard, policy director, Florida New Majority, Miami