The move will allow for some automatic restoration of rights for returning citizens
MIAMI - Today, the Florida Board of Executive Clemency approved changes to the civil rights process for returning citizens who are eligible to vote under SB7066. Those who qualify will receive automatic restoration of other civil rights, including being able to serve on juries or running for office. The changes approved by the Governor and Cabinet remove a five-year waiting period put in place by former Gov. Rick Scott, which severely limited the number of Floridians with past felony convictions who could regain their civil rights. The new process will now make restoration fully automatic for those eligible to vote under SB7066 and overrides the former process which required approval of the Clemency Board in all cases. These changes have been proposed and advocated by several Florida officials and grassroots organizations for years.
Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, responded to the announcement today with the following statement:
“These changes are a welcome addition to ensuring all returning citizens in Florida are able to meaningfully contribute in our communities. We are grateful for organizations like the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition who continue to uplift and work on these critical proposals in Florida. Full restoration of civil rights is an important step in ensuring returning citizens can become eligible for business and healthcare licensure opportunities as well as fully participate in our state’s democracy.
“However, it should be noted that Gov. DeSantis is only offering automatic rights restoration to those who already qualify under SB7066, the law that restricts the 2018 Voter Restoration Amendment 4. That highly restrictive law, which undermined the will of Florida’s voters and struck a blow against democracy itself, is one that Gov. DeSantis proposed, championed, signed into law, and cheerleads even today. Under this law, approximately 67,000 of an estimated 1.4 million Floridians have had their voting rights restored – but hundreds of thousands of returning citizens are still ineligible to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, or pursue their chosen career because of SB7066’s poll tax and their inability to pay legal financial obligations.
“While these new clemency rules are welcome and long overdue, they are not sufficient. Gov. DeSantis should repeal SB7066 and remove barriers to voting for Floridians who should have qualified to vote under Amendment 4, so that more returning citizens can make even greater contributions to our communities and democracy.”