State Watch

DeSantis ends five-year waiting period to restore Florida felons’ rights

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) moved on Wednesday to end a five-year waiting period that convicted felons previously faced after their release before regaining their voting rights. reported that DeSantis’s Cabinet members and the governor approved a set of changes to the state’s clemency process that ended the five-year delay period. Convicted felons must still pay back all victim restitution and court-ordered fees to be eligible to restore their voting rights.

“I believe that those who have had their voting rights restored, it makes sense to restore the other civil rights,” said the governor, according to

“We think that’s not only good for returning citizens, we know that’s good for the entire state,” said a spokesperson for the Rights Restoration Coalition, which lobbied for the change.

Felons in Florida saw their voting rights restored for the first time after a 2018 ballot referendum passed, though exceptions were made for those convicted of murder or felony sex-related crimes.

A law passed by DeSantis and state Republicans the following year instituted a requirement for felons to pay back court debts and restitution before their rights were restored, a law that will prohibit many from ever regaining their rights.

Democrats and advocates for the incarcerated claimed that the measure amounted to a poll tax, but a federal court rejected that argument last year.

Prior to the 2018 ballot referendum, Florida was one of just a handful of states to deny voting rights to convicted felons.


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