Individuals detained pre-trial or for misdemeanors during elections may request absentee ballots; Letters sent to all 67 counties make recommendations for facilitating right to vote
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 4, 2014
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
MIAMI, FL – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sent letters to the Supervisors of Elections and Sheriff’s offices of all 67 Florida Counties asking officials to follow best practices to facilitate the right to vote of eligible people in jails.
Although individuals with past felony convictions who have not had their voting and civil rights restored by the Florida Board of Executive Clemency may not vote in Florida, those awaiting trial or serving a jail term for a misdemeanor may request absentee ballots.
“There is a lot of confusion out there on this issue, and many people who are incarcerated during elections and can vote may not know that they can, much less have access to resources to help them exercise this fundamental right,” stated Joyce Hamilton Henry, Director of Advocacy at the ACLU of Florida. “We want to make sure that not only do individuals in these facilities know what their rights are, but also that county officials are helping to facilitate these rights.”
The letter sent to officials in all 67 Florida counties recommends county Supervisors of Elections and jail administrators follow such steps as: providing printed or online resources to the public, other government agencies and detainees about the right to vote; provide training to staff; and allow elections staff to present information to inmates during an election period. The letter also encourages officials to share practices that have been successful in the past.
From the letter:
“It has come to our attention that pre-trial detainees and convicted misdemeanants continue to face difficulty in exercising their right to vote from jail.
“For the upcoming General Election, we strongly encourage Supervisors of Elections, county jail administrators, and any other public official responsible for the management of a county or local jail to provide voter education materials and absentee ballot request forms to eligible inmates to assist them in their voting process.”
The ACLU has also created an FAQ for the public on this issue. The FAQ is available here: www.aclufl.org/votefromjail
An example of the letters sent today is available here: https://aclufl.org/resources/2014-09-vote-from-jail-letter/
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