Florida holds the dubious distinction of being among the three worst states to permanently disenfranchise individuals with a felony conviction. These individuals have limited possibility for restoration of civil rights unless they receive discretionary executive clemency. On the near eve of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday celebration, we are poignantly reminded that racism still exists in American society, that there are too many national policies that are inherently racist, and that right here in Florida, we have more than our share of discriminatory policies and practices.

Today, over 80 individuals including clergy and leaders from across the state, came together to call on Attorney General Pam Bondi to “Let My People Vote”.  The speakers called for the automatic restoration of civil rights, to expedite the rights restoration application process, and to give back the right to vote for the over 1.5 million Floridians who have been disenfranchised by this system.

Individuals traveled many miles, by bus and by car, to the Attorney General’s Tampa office to take a stand not only on their own behalf but on behalf of family members, neighbors, and friends who are struggling to fully integrate in their community.

All of them, despite having served their time, continue to be denied the right to vote by the State of Florida. Too much is at stake for so many individuals to be excluded from fully participating in the democratic process.

The press conference was coordinated by PICO’s Lifeline to Healing Campaign and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. The ACLU of Florida was represented among the speakers. This event was a powerful indictment of Florida’s Clemency Rules and of the lingering remnants of the Jim Crow era. We call upon Florida’s Clemency Board to act now and restore the rights of disenfranchised Floridians.

You can add your voice to those who spoke out today by telling Gov. Scott and the Clemency Board to restore voting rights in Florida and avoid international embarrassment for our state.