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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Study: One in 5 black Floridians can’t vote because of felon disenfranchisement
Posted Jul 9, 2012 by William March
Updated Jul 9, 2012 at 02:59 PM
More than a fifth of black Floridians and a tenth of the state’s total population aren’t allowed to vote because of the state’s prohibition on voting by former felons, the highest rate of disenfranchisement in the nation, according to an advocacy group study.
The study was done by The Sentencing Project, a non-profit think tank on criminal justice issues that advocates policies allowing former convicts to regain their voting rights.
It estimated that 23 percent of the state’s adult black population, and 10.4 percent of the total voting age population, are disenfranchised by loss of civil rights as result of criminal convictions. The vast majority of those are what the report calls “ef-felons,” those convicted of a felony who have served their sentences and completed any required parole, probation or restitution.
By comparison, national rates of disenfranchisement are 7.7 percent for blacks, and 2.5 percent for the overall population.
Florida, the report notes, has among the nation’s strictest laws on felon disenfranchisement. It’s one of 11 states that permanently bar voting by those with felony convictions, and in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott reversed new policies put in place by former Gov. Charlie Crist to make restoration of voting rights for ex-felons quicker and easier.
The report said 1.3 million ex-felons in the state, including 433,000 black ex-felons, are barred from voting, along with about 218,000 individuals who are in jail, in prison or on probation.
The report was done by two sociologists from the University of Minnesota and one from New York University. A summary is available here.