Florida justices advance voting-rights plan for ex-felons.
The movement led by Desmond Meade of Orlando to restore voting rights to non-violent ex-felons is one step closer to fruition.
The Florida Supreme Courtapproved Thursday the language of a proposed state ballot initiative to restore those rights, paving the way for its placement on the November 2018 ballot.
But Meade’s group, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, still needs to collect hundreds of thousands of more signatures if they hope to actually bring the measure before voters.
“I think it’s a great day in the history of Florida,” Meade
said. “I’m very excited and grateful. And what really highlights it is the fact that [the ruling] is unanimous. It speaks to the testament of the hardwork of Floridians across the state.”
The court ruled that the proposed initiative meets all the requirements needed to get on the ballot, including “a logical and natural oneness of purpose” that doesn’t substantially alter any government functions, and simple and clear wording that would inform voters on what itwould do.
The court also found that the financial review requested by state Attorney General Pam Bondi, who otherwise had no comment on the initiative, “clearly and unambiguously states that there are likely increased costs associated with the influx of felons registering to vote, but that the exact amount of cost increase cannot be determined.”
Florida is one of just three states that permanently bars ex-felons from voting unless they get clemency.
Meade, who couldn’t vote for his wife in her run for state Legislature, said his group collected 75,000 signatures in order to ensure the court hearing.
Now, his group needs to gather about 700,000 to get the initiative on the ballot.
“I’m very optimistic about that,” Meade said. “Any grass-roots effort takes time to build momentum. … I think more and more citizens are realizing Florida’s policies are outdated and unfair.”