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Supervisor Of Elections Sees Logistical Opportunity In Former Felon Voting Rights Bill

Image: Photo via Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, orlandoweekly.org

Florida voters approved an amendment last year that restores the voting rights of former felons. The amendment is self-enacting -- meaning former felons don’t need to wait for the legislature to act before registering to vote, but some lawmakers see a need for guidance.

The voter-approved amendment bars people convicted for murder or a sexual felony from registering to vote. Republican Florida house representative James Grant said the amendment needslegislative guidance to define what a sexual felony is or what it means to complete a sentence.

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles called for a comprehensive state database that would make it easier to check voter status.

“Until such a time that the Florida legislature either creates or mandates the creation of database or when they can all provide the information the [election] division needs.” 

Advocacy groups say the legislation goes too far by broadly defining sexual felony offenses and offering no clarification on the payment of previous court fees which could hold up registration.