This week, we made a bombshell discovery in our work defending the right to vote in Florida against voter suppression. A public records request we filed with the Florida Parole Commission has uncovered 17,604 Restoration of Civil Rights (RCR) certificates that were returned to the Parole Commission as “undeliverable."
That means over 17,000 formerly-incarcerated Floridians have had their voting and civil rights restored but haven't received official notice from the state. After further investigation, we found that about 77% of the citizens who had the right to vote but haven't received their notices - 13,517 Florida citizens - haven't registered to vote yet, and may not even know that they have the right to vote at all.
The ACLU is encouraging Florida citizens who applied to have their rights restored but who have not received a response from the state to either:
- call the Florida Parole Commission at 1-800-435-8286;
- visit the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) website at www.restorerights.org, and click “How to Restore Rights” to learn about checking your status.
- or contact your local county Supervisor of Elections office for assistance in checking your status and determining whether you are eligible to vote.
It should be no surprise that Governor Scott, who rolled back the rights restoration reforms of his predecessor, hasn't done more to help the Parole Commission contact these citizens about their voting rights. As ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon put it, “The contrast between the baseless claims that Governor Scott has made about voter fraud and the lengths to which he has gone to make voting more difficult, and the inattention to the thousands of voting rights restoration certifications gathering dust in the capitol could not be sharper."
Read our press release to learn more about this week's discovery, Florida's system of lifetime disfranchisement for former felons, and the work the ACLU is doing to reform it.