Tags: florida | felons | voters

30,000 Florida Felons on Voter Rolls

Monday, 13 Oct 2008 02:30 PM

By Jim Meyers

More than 30,000 Florida felons who should not be allowed to vote remain registered to cast ballots in the upcoming presidential election, an investigation has found.

Of the felons who registered with a party, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2-to-1 in the key swing state, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which conducted the investigation.

Florida is one of 10 states that restrict felons from voting even after they have served their time. Felons are removed from voter rolls by state and county elections officials after they have been convicted, and can be put back on the rolls only if they win clemency to restore their voting rights.

The state eased restrictions in 2007 and granted automatic clemency to most nonviolent offenders who complete their sentences. But others, including those convicted of federal offenses, multiple felonies or crimes including drug trafficking, murder and sex charges, must still apply for clemency, the Sun-Sentinel explained.

The felons identified by the newspaper’s investigation did not receive clemency, but their names remain on Florida’s voting rolls.

Elections officials are required to conduct criminal records checks only after voters are added to the rolls, and it takes months or even years to remove ineligible voters, The Sun-Sentinel found.

“It’s scandalous, really,” Lance deHaven-Smith, professor of public policy at Florida State University, told The Sun-Sentinel.

“Why do they have to cull the rolls after they get registered? They shouldn’t get on the rolls in the first place.”

Florida’s elections chief, Secretary of State Kurt Browning, confirmed that his staff has not removed thousands of ineligible felons, and blamed the problem on a shortage of workers and a flood of new registrations in the state.

Of the 30,000-plus ineligible felons who are registered, about 5,600 are not likely to vote in November — they are still behind bars.

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