After a federal judge this week ordered the state to revamp its system of restoring ex-felons’ voting rights, a group of pastors and former felons from across Florida gathered Friday to call for Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet to quickly address the issue.
The “Clergy Coalition for Civil Rights” held a news conference in Tallahassee, three days after the ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker.
Under the state’s current system, felons must wait at least five years before applying to have their civil rights, including the right to vote, restored. Once an application is made, the process can take years to complete. Florida is one of just a handful of states that do not have some sort of automatic restoration of the right to vote for ex-felons.
Walker ruled that the system was unconstitutional and gave Scott and the Cabinet a month to revamp what Walker called a “fatally flawed” rights-restoration process.
“When a person has served his or her time in prison, paid their debt to society, paid restitution and are off probation, it is the humane and right thing to do,” said the Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee.
Scott’s office has not said whether the state will appeal Walker’s ruling.