Restoration of Voting Rights
Information on Florida’s 2018 Amendment 4 restoration of voting rights for persons with felony convictions (Returning Citizens).
Restoration of Voting Rights
In 2018, Florida voters approved an amendment to the Florida Constitution that automatically restored the voting rights of felons, except for murderers and felony sex offenders. The following June, the Legislature passed a law (Florida Statute 98.0751/Senate Bill 7066) requiring persons with felony convictions (also referred to as “returning citizens”) to pay all financial obligations including fines, fees, costs and restitution before registering to vote.
Despite legal appeals, this requirement remains in place, and it has proven difficult for many. The law does allow returning citizens to petition courts to modify their sentences, but the path to achieve this is not clear—even for attorneys. The process for returning citizens to confirm voting status, find and understand all records, or get a sentence modified is challenging at best.
Mission of the LWVFL:
Empowering Voters, Defending Democracy
The League is committed to helping returning citizens gain the right to vote.
Our goals include:
Informing returning citizens about their new rights; how to determine what fines, costs, restitution and fees might be outstanding; and getting registered to vote.
Educating and activating attorneys to assist returning citizens through two League-created, Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education (CLE) courses. These courses teach attorneys how to assist returning citizens and petition courts for modifications. They are offered at no charge, and we ask the trained attorneys to provide pro bono (free) legal services to returning citizens to help them vote.
Promoting statewide volunteer efforts to reach out to returning citizens and help them navigate the voter registration process.
Prior to the 2020 election, the LWVFL trained lawyers to provide free services and sent postcards to more than 225,000 persons with felony convictions who had no financial obligations, informing them of their right to vote. A substantial percentage registered to vote, and many voted for the first time since their convictions. League members conducted voter registration efforts for returning citizens statewide.
Regaining the right to vote has been life-changing for many, and rewarding for volunteers and attorneys who participated in registration efforts.
ARE YOU A RETURNING CITIZEN?
Are you a Lawyer or a legal volunteer?
Are you a League Member or an engaged citizen?
Legal Services Entities, Re-Entry Programs and Other Organizations
We are working now on plans to expand our efforts to provide more resources to those with financial difficulties and to
SUPPORTING PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS:
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