FED­ERAL JUDGE OR­DERS FLORIDA TO MAKE VOT­ING RIGHTS CHANGES

South Florida Times - - WEEK IN REVIEW -

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE, Fla. - A fed­eral judge on Tues­day or­dered Florida to de­vise a new way to de­cide when and how for­mer pris­on­ers can get their vot­ing rights re­stored, say­ing Gov. Rick Scott and state of­fi­cials can no longer rely on “whims, pass­ing emo­tions, or per­cep­tions'' in that process. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker also blocked the state's cur­rent sys­tem of forc­ing most ex-felons to wait at least five years be­fore they can ask to have their vot­ing rights re­stored. The sys­tem was put in place back in 2011 at the urg­ing of Scott and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Pam Bondi.Walker did not spec­ify what rules the state should put in place but in­stead gave Scott and state of­fi­cials _ who act as the state's clemency board _ un­til April 26 to come up with a new process. Florida was sued on be­half of ex-felons whose re­quests for vot­ing rights were turned down. “This court is not the vote restora­tion czar,'' wrote Walker, who was ap­pointed by President Barack Obama. “It does not pick and choose who may re­ceive the right to vote and who may not. Nor does it write the rules and reg­u­la­tions for the ex­ec­u­tive clemency board.'' But he said the court pos­sesses the es­tab­lished duty to “say what the law is.'' John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, did not say if the gov­er­nor's of­fice would ap­peal Walker's de­ci­sion. But Tupps de­fended the process now in place. “The gov­er­nor con­tin­ues to stand with vic­tims of crime,'' said Tupps. “He be­lieves that peo­ple who have been con­victed of felony of­fenses in­clud­ing crimes like mur­der, vi­o­lence against chil­dren and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, should demon­strate that they can live a life free of crime while be­ing ac­count­able to our com­mu­ni­ties.''

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