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28 J. C.R. & Econ. Dev. 107 (2015-2016)
Felony Disenfranchisement in Florida: Past, Present and Future

handle is hein.journals/sjjlc28 and id is 119 raw text is: 








FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT IN FLORIDA:
               PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE


                         ALLISON  J. RIGGS, ESQ.I

  Laws   that restrict individuals with felony convictions from voting are
widespread  in the United  States, but those laws themselves  vary widely
from  state to state.  Only  Maine  and  Vermont   allow people  who   are
incarcerated for a felony to vote. Other states further prohibit individuals
on parole or probation relating to a felony conviction from casting a ballot.
The  most stringent laws, that prohibit not only persons on probation and
parole from voting, but also those who have satisfied their entire sentence,
are found only in election states, including Florida.2
  Because  of disparities in the criminal justice system, African Americans,
and other people of color are disproportionately more likely to be kept from
voting because  of felony disenfranchisement laws.  Indeed, in Florida, 23
percent of  voting-age African  Americans   is disenfranchised because  of
prior felony convictions.3 Under  Florida law, regaining the right to vote
following  a  felony  conviction  is exceptionally  difficult. This article
examines  the fluctuating rules governing restoration of the right to vote in
Florida, including legal challenges to those rules. This article concludes by
discussing potential legal, policy, and advocacy routes for ameliorating the
enormous   burden  that these rules place on  people  of color seeking  to
participate in the political process.

    I.      EVOLVING   FELONY   DISENFRANCHISEMENT RULES IN FLORIDA

    The United States is unique amongst developed nations in its sanctioning
of stringent felony  disenfranchisement.4 Florida is unique  amongst   the

  1 Ms. Riggs received her J.D. in 2009 from the University of Florida. She is currently a Senior
Attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham, North Carolina, where she specializes
in voting rights.
  2 Marla McDaniel et al., Imprisonment and Disenfranchisement of Disconnected Low-Income Men,
URBAN  INSTITUTE, 4 (August 2013), available at http://www.urban.org(UploadedPDF/412986-
Imprisonment-and-Disenfranchisement-of-Disconnected-Low-Income-Men.pdf
  3 Id. at 5-6.
  4 The Canadian Supreme Court held that criminal disenfranchisement laws are unconstitutional.


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