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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Florida Lawmakers attempt to stifle Amendment 4 and voting rights

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Confusion still remains around Amendment 4-including when an ex-felon is eligible to vote. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Once again, Florida lawmakers have heard the voice of the people, and offered us legislation that all but ignores it.

Amendment 4, which passed last November with more than 64 percent of the vote, grants automatic restoration of voting rights to felons who have completed all terms of their sentence, ending the former crapshoot of a petition process. During Rick Scott’s term, his clemency board reviewed almost 30,000 cases and restored rights to less than 3,000.

Last week, the House passed a plan that critics are calling a modern-day poll tax. Felons would have to clear all financial obligations, including court costs, fees and fines; mandated restitution; liens imposed by subsequent civil suits; and costs of supervision, like monitoring anklets.

As atrocious as the former clemency system was, it didn’t impose expenses outside the judge’s sentence when considering rights restoration. This “clarification” amounts to charging the disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of dollars to rejoin society.

But this is nothing new. Time and time again, the Legislature has dragged their feet resisting voter initiatives. Class sizes, fair districting, medical marijuana: all have been subject to the delay, deny, defend process.

Florida voters deserve better than this petty game of semantics.

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