Friday, April 06, 2007

Voting Rights in Florida

Two months before the 2004 presidential election, I noted in this post that approximately 4,700,000 Americans would be ineligible to vote because of state restrictions on voting by convicted felons. The disenfranchisement of felons, which is a matter of state rather than federal law, has been most common in the South where it is a legacy of the Jim Crow era. It is generally viewed as a violations of international human rights law.

Yesterday, Florida's clemency board voted to allow most of the state's 950,000 disenfranchised ex-felons to regain their right to vote. The decision, pushed by Republican governor Charlie Crist, leaves only Virginia and Kentucky on the list of states with lifetime bans on voting by ex-felons.

Before the vote, Gov. Crist said, "This is Holy Week, a week that is all about forgiveness. Restoring civil rights is the right thing to do."