Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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ACLU: Rights restoration notices not delivered to thousands
Posted Aug 1, 2012 by William March
Updated Aug 1, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Based on a check of state Parole Commission records, the American Civil Liberties Union says some 17,000 former felons whose civil rights have been restored never received their notices of rights restoration, and thousands of them may not know they’re eligible to vote.
The ACLU announced today that it requested records concerning notices of rights restoration that were mailed by the Parole Commission but returned as undeliverable, and found 17,604 such cases.
Of those, it said, 13,517 have not registered to vote and may not know they’re eligible to do so.
A Parole Commission spokeswoman confirmed the ACLU’s figure on the number of undelivered rights restoration notices, saying they stemmed from the period during which Florida had automatic restoration of rights for low-level offenders. The commission sent letters notifying the offenders of the restoration to their last-known address, provided by the Department of Corrections.
Under that automatic restoration, enacted by former Gov. Charlie Crist, the lower-level offenders had their voting rights restored without having to file any application or go through a hearing.
Scott and the Florida Cabinet ended automatic restoration in March 2011.
“The contrast between the baseless claims that Governor Scott has made about voter fraud and the lengths to which he has gone to make voting more difficult, and the inattention to the thousands of voting rights restoration certifications gathering dust in the capitol could not be sharper,” said Florida ACLU executive director Howard Simon.
Scott spokesman Brian Burgess called Simon’s claim “outrageous,” noting that the “most of these notifications were returned during the previous administration and maybe during the first three months of the Scott administration,” before automatic restoration was ended.