Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Understanding the law restoring felon voting rights in Florida

Laws change all the time at the local, state and federal level. This may make it hard to keep track of new statutes and stay on the right side of the legal system. 

There are numerous new Florida laws in effect in 2019 that cover a multitude of issues, from felon voting rights to the minimum wage. The new law restoring voting rights to felons is perhaps one of the biggest landmark pieces of legislation in the history of the nation. More than five million citizens voted in favor of this measure, which is more votes than any candidate received.

Restoration of felon voting rights

Thanks to the passing of Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution, nearly 1.5 million former felons in the Sunshine State are no longer disenfranchised. Former felons can now exercise their right to vote upon the completion of their respective sentences. They no longer need to wait five to seven years and request voting rights from the Florida Clemency Board during a process that has proven typically unsuccessful. In fact, the process took years to complete, and of the 30,000-plus applicants, only 3,005 had their voting rights restored as of Oct. 1, 2018. There was a backlog of over 10,000 applications pending.

How it works

Election officials are now accepting registration forms from former felons. Interestingly, the documents are still the same, which means voters must affirm that either they are not felons or their voting rights are restored. After the adoption of Amendment 4, the Division of Elections is not matching registration forms to the database of felons.

This law is being celebrated by many across the state and country. Although not every felon is eligible under the new law - it excludes those convicted of certain serious offenses - it is a step in the right direction. 

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